First, do not read this book in its entirety after midnight on a creepy night. Second, do not read this book in an empty house that makes creepy noises when your boyfriend is out of town. Lastly, read this book in its entirety in one sitting and thoroughly enjoy the experience of getting to live in this world with these characters and one ghost and being thoroughly creeped out. You will appreciate the advice.
This will probably be my favorite book of the year (saying that in February is a bit of a risk). It is so perfectly timed where I neither needed the book to speed up or slow down. I took pleasure in every single minute of reading. The characters and the story is heartbreaking and beautiful. This is truly a book that Oprah and I will be telling you to read.
I am still trying to formulate my many thoughts into a blurb for this book. There is something so unique about Morgan and yet this book almost feels universal. She is so open and vulnerable that you feel like you really know her. I feel like she also has some kind of magic ability and insight to make difficult subjects and inject moments of humor into them. This Will Be My Undoing will leave you changed.
Rarely do I find myself reading the sources for a book. When I finished The Monk of Mokha, I was so fascinated with the entire book that I looked up the Frontline documentary and read much more on the topic of Yemen. Eggers chose an incredible subject with plenty of humanity. I worked in coffee for years and did not know much of what Eggers explains.
So dark and chilling! Everything about this book is so incredibly atmospheric. The story unfolds about two women that are so similar and so incredibly different that they are almost shadows of one another. Morocco and the world during this period are changing and that change looms through the whole novel. It was breathtaking.
This book is sexy and gritty and wonderful. A meandering story of religion and queer sex and family and America. Brontez manages to capture a feeling of being brown and queer without holding anything back.
I just imagine this book being made into a movie like an updated version of Alfred Hitchcock. It has all of the intensity and setup that you crave from Hitchcock with a very modern and timely shakeup. I listened to the audiobook on Libro.fm and loved the narration. It kept me on the edge of my seat!
The first half of this book will leave you wondering why people have been talking about this book. Amber is a terrible person who is trying to do terrible things. And then the switch happens in the middle that leaves you with your jaw on the floor. This is a combination of Gone Girl with Fifty Shades (taking the most interesting parts of both of those books).
This is truly an innovative look at a classic love story. The main characters (Claude and Suzanne) of this book were historically way ahead of their time. They were gender fluid pre-WWII!! As far as the secondary characters go, I kept looking up to find more information on these movers and shakers of the European art scene. But the thing that kept me coming back was the love story. It was so inspiring to see love conquer so many battles. This is a book that I will be reading again!
Everyone romanticizes Paris. This book has a way of romanticizing that romance in a way that feels original and mysterious. Truly a book for book lovers and lovers in general. If you have ever dreamed of writing a book or owning a bookstore, let this book show you one of the most bizarre ways to end up doing so.
I actually could not put this book down. I spent an entire weekend depriving myself of sleep to find out what would happen. Alaska is such a mysterious and dangerous character of the book, and Hannah captures all of its beauty. Leni and her family are trying to escape the world, and it seems that the solution is Alaska. People can be whatever they want to be in Alaska in 1974. You can marry a goose if you want and no one will judge you. But Alaska is fierce and can be deadly if you don't watch yourself.
This is a book that will haunt you for a while. When we think about disasters here in the Midwest, you don't often think about tsunamis. I was horrified by the news stories in the wake of the Japanese tsunami of 2011 but did not really understand the entirety of the humanity of what had happened. This book focuses not on the nuclear disaster that is also associated with that earthquake but the shocking events of that day that especially struck a small elementary school.
Jellyfish are way more interesting than I ever imagined. If you need more random facts to tell your friends, this is the book. And Juli Berwald grew up here in St. Louis.
This is definitely for fans of Harry Potter. Two students are chosen for the Schools for Good and Evil but are seemingly placed in the wrong school. Agatha and Sophie will surprise you! The author wanted to write a book where good and evil are not quite what they might seem.
If you love Happy Valley as much as I do (please say you know what I am talking about), you will love this book! The detective at the heart of this procedural is flawed and wonderful and needs a police scanner to be able to fall asleep. I loved the characters. I loved the mystery. And the TWIST!
A book dealing with the murder of a child does not immediately scream staff pick, but trust me that this book is incredibly interesting and haunting. The author is completely immersed in the story so it is part memoir and part true crime. She was working with a firm that dealt with capital punishment cases when she first heard of this case. From there, it rocked her entire life bringing out her own past. It is definitely a book that will make you think deeply about your own feelings towards the death penalty.
Allende starts the book and you think it is going to be an innocent love story between two academics. Then she throws in a dead body in a trunk during a snowstorm in New York. Allende is a master of her craft. She is also the only author so far that has called me bossy!
This book altered my imagination! I don't read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, but I know that this is definitely on the list of must reads. It isn't even really post-apocalyptic in the way that you might be imagining. It is just like if women developed this ability and the world that we know immediately changes. This book is what happens when the whole world changes.
It won the Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction which is quickly becoming my list of favorite books.
Everything you have been told about this book is true! It is incredibly deserving of all the awards and lists that it has been on. So smart! Satire at its best!
This book is quirky and weird and delicious! The easy way to describe this book is that Lois' life is changed in ways she would never expect by a bread that is more than fantastic. She is the #1 Eater that becomes so much more. Some days, I just hope that I can achieve as much. The hard way to describe it is just that. This book is amorphous and doesn't really fit a genre and isn't really like any book I have ever read.
Missouri author Alex George sets up a beautiful world with writing that makes you see the world almost in sepia tones. I cried multiple times during this novel because life is so beautiful and so tragic. Think My Girl in terms of similarities dealing with life and death and childhood friendships. I can’t tell you too much without giving away spoilers. A new kid comes to town and flips it upside down for a kid who is destined to inherit an amusement park in a dying tourist town.
There are so many things happening in this book that unfortunately are coming back into the spotlight. Fascists, the KKK, racism, and civil rights provide the context for the crazy crimes that Atlanta's first black police officers have to deal with in Lightning Men. Thomas Mullen's ability to create an intricate web of crimes makes you feel like the spider is anywhere about to drop in. I was captivated and amazed. I am so thrilled that the characters from Darktown get to continue having a story.
I spent the entire weekend reading Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. It is a fantastically delightful novel. It is a little bit of everything from mystery to love story to titillating short stories. Definitely not erotica but also not for the faint of heart. This is one of those books that you get done with reading and you just want to clap to show it thanks.
Hold on to your emotions: this book is deeply affecting. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo is a profound look into a very troubled relationship over twenty years in a turbulent Nigeria. It may not be an easy read, but it is a very fulfilling one that will leave you thinking about the characters long after you finish.
Yejide and Akin are young and trying everything they can to have children. The need for offspring has altered all aspects of their once blissful marriage. Akin is pressured into taking a second wife in hopes for a child. Yejide will do anything to make sure she is the one to give Akin the child that he so desperately desires.
Stay With Me was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. Their shortlist added quite a few books to my reading stack, including the winner, The Power by Naomi Alderman, which comes out in October.
Eleanor Oliphant is the quirky female character that we deserve. So many people recommended this book to me, and they were right. It was original and weird and wonderful.
For everyone who wants more behind the scenes of a courtroom, this is the book. The narrator keeps you so involved in the story. I could not put this book down. I had to find out the rest of the story. There were several points where I audibly gasped because I was so surprised. For fans of SVU and so much more.
Complete edge of your seat! Completely thrilling!
I could not figure things out fast enough, so I was constantly surprised by what was happening. Four friends share a secret and share a bond that holds through time and distance.
I love all of Ruth Ware's books and would be hard pressed to find a favorite. She is the Agatha Christie of today.
I chose not to put this book down. It changed me. It controlled me. It should be required reading. Roxane Gay has such a way of making you feel like you are involved in her writing. She is speaking to you. She wants you to change, to be a better person. This book is about how to protect yourself. How to live in a world that wants to eat you alive.
Thoroughly Southern in every way. I wanted to run around drinking a mint julep and calling everyone darlin'. This book is a perfectly balanced with drama, humor, compassion, and depth. It is a family drama with so much drama that you have to laugh at points. And laugh you will!
Almost Sisters is an homage to the South that doesn't gloss over anything. Jackson makes you feel like you are an "almost sister" as well.
A view of the world from the inside of the bars. Graybar Hotel gives you such a sense of the mental anguish that a prisoner encounters every day. Each story will pull you in many directions. I read a few of the stories and listened to the rest on libro.fm (our new independent audiobook website). They both created a very unique experience.
The characters of this story make it more than just a psychological mystery. I loved Fiona's first book (The Widow), and think that she has really captured the heart of the genre. In The Child, the skeleton of a child has been discovered in a construction site and the details of the circumstances are completely unknown. It is only through the super journalistic skills of Kate that the story gets more than just a small article in a paper. She flushed the story out and gives it the humanity that it deserves.
You will not be able to put this book down! It was addictive and suspenseful and you actually care for the characters. The widow has to figure out how to put her life together after years of turmoil. Her husband has been accused of a heinous crime, but how much does she know?
By now, you probably recognize the name Fredrik Backman as one of the world's favorite emerging authors. This book holds up to his canon of fantastic works, but it is quite different from his others. It has the usual Backman qualities in that it will make you laugh and cry, but this one seems deeper and more complex. Beartown deals with the struggles of an entire town trying to become significant again. This is a book about hockey much like how Friday Night Lights is a series about football. It is there, but the human aspect of the story is much more important than the sport. Beartown will break your heart.
This book will get you out of any funk. It is hilarious and exactly what this world needs. I can't say much more other than I am sad that I will never read this book again for the first time. There will be a second time and possibly a third. She touches on so many topics that are so relevant and so important.
This book touches on a lot of very delicate subjects, and Thrity Umrigar handles them with care. A young, black boy is "rescued" from his drug addicted mother by an affluent white couple that sets into motion the events of Anton's future. I had so much optimism for the characters. I wanted everyone to succeed and lessons to be learned. You will have so much compassion for Anton and the situation that he has found himself in.
The Leavers has stayed with me in a wonderful way since I finished reading, as it speaks to the importance of understanding in today’s society. The characters all struggle with finding and coping with their place in the world, from a Chinese-immigrant mother who disappears from her son’s life, to the son’s life with his adopted parents, affluent white professors at a liberal arts college in upstate New York.
This month’s book received so much attention ahead of publication that it almost seemed too good to be true: Lisa Ko’s The Leavers was the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, appeared on numerous Most Anticipated lists, and received raves from the likes of Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett. You should believe the hype.
Described as Southern Bastards meets American Gods, I was hooked. I think the story of an old man acquiring this weapon to help him and also endanger him tells a lot about the choices that one must make. The story is the driving force with plenty of action and plenty of mythology. I really enjoyed spending time with these characters.
Completely captivating and utterly horrifying. I could not put it down, and I was appalled by the information that I completely lacked. The Osage were the richest people in the world per capita during the oil boom. A string of unsolved murders and suspicious deaths prompted the government to respond with what would become the FBI. Grann does a fascinating job with narrative history. The story keeps growing and the ramifications of this history still live with us today.
Mohsin Hamid is one of my favorite authors. His worldview is one of the most unique voices working in literary fiction. I was fascinated by the story and compelled by how timely an issue this is. If I had to guess, I would say that Mohsin Hamid has magical abilities himself. This book will transport you to places near and far.
I have been a huge fan of Lori Rader-Day since her debut mystery, and I can honestly say that her books keep getting better. I was immediately drawn into The Day I Died with a stunning first chapter and the development of a murder and a missing child. Anna is a woman on the run. She is a handwriting expert (the details of this are fascinating), trying to adapt to a new place, and stuggling to raise a teenager. This story has so many layers that you will not be able to put it down. The pages seem to turn themselves. Also, Lori named a character after me, so now you really need to buy this book.
YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!
If every single person would read this book, I would have so much more faith in humanity. Angie Thomas wrote this as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. I could not imagine a more honest main character or story. Do not put this book down. Read it cover to cover as often as you can. Yes, more than once! Adults, teens, anyone with a heart, anyone with any sort of social consciousness.
Young Eddy is growing up gay in a small factory town in France. The novel focuses on the many experiences that Eddy has growing up and finding out that he is different from the other members of his family. This is going to be a classic gay novel that has already been translated into many languages and has gotten international attention.
The Kopp sisters are delightful characters! Girl Waits With Gun is an amazing historical mystery with plenty of edge and proper etiquette. The world these women live in is quickly changing before their eyes. How do they adapt to everything that is happening to them?
A wicked man in an automobile runs into their buggy, and Constance Kopp is forced to take matters into her own hands. He is not the kind of man that you would want to cross. Between bricks being thrown through their windows and taking care of the farm, the Kopp sisters have a lot on their plate. I am thrilled to continue reading this series and living in the world of 20th century women.
A really interesting look at the entire world. Tim Marshall breaks the world up into political and geographical sections and dives deep into the reasons why each section gets along with or absolutely does not get along with their neighbors or the rest of the world. Hard to describe because there is so much information, but really eye-opening and led me to a lot of internet searches about certain topics that I was completely blind to.
So dark and twisted. I suspected every single character at any given point through the book. It really kept me guessing. What secrets can people hide and how far will they go to hide it? Think Gone Girl but with redeeming qualities.
I could not believe how disgustingly evil one of the characters in this book completely embodies. It is so violent and so bleek. Think if Quentin Tarantino wrote Moby Dick. That is what this book made me feel.
Inspired by the true story behind the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World (1948), we get to see a picture of mid-century Americana in all of its beauty. Christina (the main character of the novel) is a powerful character, crippled by a childhood illness, who refuses to give up and lives her life as well as she can. As readers, we can see that Christina struggles with how much she needs the family farm and lifestyle, and how much it needs her.
I was most keen to the author’s appreciation for the lack of amenities and the resourcefulness of the family. It definitely made me want to get away from the world, shut off the internet, ignore the cars driving by, light a candle and wrap up in a blanket and just read.
I had dinner with Christina Baker Kline in Minneapolis, and she discussed her new novel A Piece of the World. She is a bundle of energy. Her enthusiasm for this book is unbridled. She immediately gained a fan in me. I don’t always read historical fiction, but when I do, I love it. This book is no exception.
Delicate but powerful. At its core, this is a love story, yet it is so much more. Each word is power and the story slowly unfolds into this beautiful flower. It is not what I would typically find myself reading, but I am so happy that I did. I wanted to hold the book when I wasn't reading just so that I could stay with the story.
So many things about this book feel like the sensational Stranger Things meets The Rosie Project. Set in 1987, three boys set off on a quest to acquire a copy of Playboy with Vanna White on the cover. The resulting adventure involves love, video games, and doing anything to see a naked celebrity. It is sweet and delightful and also captivating.
Kris, one of our co-owners, was an early advocate for this book. She forced it into my hands and said that this was a book for me. She was not wrong. Dark and atmospheric with its setting, looming characters, and sense of upcoming doom, the book starts dramatically pulling the reader in.
I was fascinated by the many stories being told simultaneously in the book. Each chapter bounces from the past to the future with dazzling grace. The narrator, Linda, gives us a glimpse into the backwoods of Minnesota and the seclusion that comes with it.
I devoured this book in two sittings during the a near miss of an ice storm in St. Louis. It was the perfect excuse to not leave the house.
Historical fiction, police procedural, and civil rights! This gripping mystery will keep you coming back. This story is based on the first 8 African American police officers in Atlanta after World War II. The varying perspectives jump around to multiple policemen and give different views of the world. I found the characters and the scenerio so fascinating that I hope it becomes a series or a movie or television show or something. I want more from this world.
As a child of a certain generation, I found much inspiration from the movie Mean Girls. I connected with so many of the characters including Rajiv Surendra's Kevin G, captain of the Mathletes. Rajiv's book continues to inspire me as an actor. Spending years trying to get cast in his dream role as the lead in the Life of Pi, Rajiv takes us deep into his life and goals. It is a wonderful journey that we get to take as he discovers himself, and the reader gets to discover more about themselves.
I watched a YouTube video on the rules of cricket and how a game is played. I recommend doing that and then throwing yourself into this book. I was fascinated by the sport and the two boys that are the focus of the book! Manju and Radha were raised to be cricket stars in India, but fate has a way of making things difficult. It is not a story about cricket but about the brothers and their lives growing from the slums to promising stars. And the ending blew me away.
This book belongs on your shelf. Such a wonderful collection of essays from Hamid's career. He is such an eloquent author (his novels are among my favorite books). The essays on politics captivated me with a wealth of information about the world and especially Pakistan. This could only be written by someone that has claimed three continents as his home. I highly recommend this for reading groups because you will want to discuss so many different parts of the book.
I was drawn to this book from an interview the author did with NPR. It is such a well-told, interesting story. Charlie Freeman is a chimpanzee that a family is hired to adopt and treat like a member of the family. It is bizarre, striking, and creates a dialogue about race through glimpses into the past. --Shane's Staff Pick April
This is entirely possible to read in one sitting, but I would not recommend it. I should have learned my lesson with any of his three previous books and not finished it in public either. The lessons that I have learned from Fredrik Backman are tear streaked. I have read all of his books and can recommend them for anyone. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
I cannot believe that this is a debut novel. It is such a beautifully crafted story with such stunning characters. The Mothers are a collective of mothers from the church that act as a type of Greek chorus looking in at the story. Even though this is a book about the church and abortion, it does not get preachy or judgmental about the situation. This is life after certain choices have been made. Bravo Brit Bennett! -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick 2016
Such breadth and yet so intimate.Mahajan looks at the lives of many people affected by a bomb set off in a marketplace in India. The characters are more intertwined than they first appear. Muslim and Hindu, friend and foe, their lives are drastically changed in ways that they might not even realize until years afterwards. Stunningly beautiful! -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
Dave Eggers never fails me! This book is about a woman running away from wildfires both literally and figuratively. Josie has run away with her two children to Alaska to escape her lawsuit-ridden dental practice, her ex-husband who suffers from excessive bowel movements, and the grief from the death of a young soldier. Much like Eggers other books, the setting plays a large part in the book. Alaska is the backdrop and also a beautiful character. Full of emotion, humor, and action, Heroes of the Frontier is a beautiful read. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
If you loved Americanah or Twelve Tribes of Hattie, you must read this book. It is an epic family saga that will make your heart ache. So beautifully conceived and flows through history with you furiously turning pages. I could not put this down.
An epic family drama with a backdrop of the AIDS crisis. This book is wonderfully constructed bouncing around in time and character. There is so much heart and gravity to the story. I am drawn to so many of the characters and their interesting storylines. The way that Murphy weaves the stories between characters was magnificent.
I devoured this book! I love Ann Patchett and think this book is phenomenal. The weave of the family's story is so magical and poetic. The depth of character is beautiful. The reader is thrown into this family like you are one of their own.-Shane's November Staff Pick, 2016
Such an interesting gem. This journalist takes you on an adventure around the world in quest for a rare and extremely expensive aquarium fish. It was fascinating with little diversions of intriguing facts. I did not know that the longest civil war is still happening in Southeast Asia in what is now Myanmar. The author takes you there in her quest. For fans of adventure books like Lost City of Z. -Shane's October Staff Pick, 2016
Struggling Cameroonian immigrants attempt surviving New York during the economic crisis in this captivating debut novel. This is definitely in my top 5 books for the year. I fell in love with the characters and want so much for them to succeed. This novel gives such a view of the trickle down impact of the collapse starting at the top of Lehman Brothers. Jende and Nini's story is one that will stay with you for a long time. -Shane's October Staff Pick, 2016
I loved so many things about this book. The characters were heartfelt, the plot was intense, the historical story it was inspired by is insane, and everything pays off so well. The story revolves around the making of a horror film set in the Amazon. The way Wilson captures the dangerous feel of the jungle, the drug trade, and humans, in general, is so thrilling. Pick it up and let the fear wash over you. -Shane's Pick September 2016
I could not put it down! This is the perfect blend of everything I love about mysteries. The story starts nearly 20 years ago when twin girls are abducted from the yard of their historic Keokuk, Iowa mansion while their older sister picks them flowers from the backyard. For years, the family ran from this terrible crime but now Arden, the protagonist, has returned to the small town in Iowa to face her demons after her father's death. This book is about true crime enthusiasts (which I am), family in a small Midwestern city (like where I am from), and struggling to figure out your life (who isn't struggling with this?). I think readers of all ages can truly connect to the idea of where you are from not being the same as it is today. I get this feeling every time I go back home. But getting back to the mystery of the book. McHugh does a great job of making the book super spooky, unpredictable, suspenseful, and haunting. I loved the characters in the book. I think McHugh is really growing into a suspense author powerhouse. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2016
I love the literature that is coming out of Nigeria right now. This debut novel tells the story of four brothers and the fate that awaits them. As much as I loved the prose and thought that it was captivating, I also thought it was going to be predictable. I was WRONG. The ending had my heart in its grip. If you love Chimamanda Adichie, read this book.
Incredible illustrations. The story almost has a songlike quality to it. And it is educational teaching children how different animals see the world. So clever. So stunning. -Shane's July Staff Pick 2016
Again, Ruth Ware writes the book of the summer! This is one that you will not be able to put down. Such a expertly crafted mystery with drunken journalists, an outrageously expensive and luxurious private cruise, beautiful surroundings, and an entire boat of suspects. It is perfectly British and perfectly wonderful. --Shane's Staff Pick July 2016
This is my favorite coloring book! The Bad-Ass Bitch Unicorn is my spirit animal. -Shane's July Staff Pick, 2016
Since reading, I have seen the effects of Lindy West everywhere I look. She has touched not only my life (in ways that I wasn't aware), and made my online life less scary, but also strengthened and motivated me to assist with her mission. I only hope that one day I will be as strong as Lindy West. I have been telling strangers that I meet that they need to know the name Lindy West. -Shane's Pick May 2016
I LOVED this book. I think Fredrik Backman is quickly becoming my favorite author. His range of emotion and his depth of character is just stunning. Britt-Marie is a minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry. And you will fall in love with all of her quirks. You will laugh and cry. I want to describe it as a really intelligent "feel good" book. What do you need from life? What happens when everything you know is no longer relevant? What is your favorite cleaning product is no longer manufactured? How do you begin again? -Shane's May Staff Pick 2016
Dark humor, fairy tales, grieving, and love. I did not expect this book to make me weep in the San Francisco airport at 4am, but it did. It was really beautiful. The way the narrator's grandmother wove fairy tales into her own world is just stunning. This book is full of optimism in such a strange way. -Shane's Staff Pick April
Zac keeps getting better and better. Blood Between Us will keep you on your toes and keep you guessing the whole way through.
Such an incredible tale. Very well translated and researched. Hong Gildong is less the Korean Robin Hood as he is the Korean Hercules. He can do anything.
Nature and adventure and robots! This is great to read with your parents or by yourself. This book has everything.
I learned so much reading this book about (obviously) the Middle East, journalism, and a behind the scenes view of both. Engel happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. His writing style is just incredible. It allows the reader into the emotions of what is happening but also filling the reader with so much information.
Kwame's style is so wonderful and well-crafted. This is a perfect book for reluctant readers and for reading lovers. I enjoy soccer, but I am not a huge fan, and I still appreciated the sport and the passion that the characters hold for it. My only wish is for someone to compile a list of all the book references into a reading list for kids.
Super spooky. Super atmospheric. Not just for lovers of the Longmire series (this was my first foray outside of the TV series). Craig Johnson makes me want to go to Montana.
Chimpanzees, religion, Portugal, pathology. How do these make a beautiful novel? I don't have the answer, but they do. I loved Life of Pi (who didn't?) and could not wait for this novel. It is so magical, so well crafted, so much beautiful detail. It is a must read. -Shane's Pick April 2016
This book will make you so angry. Want to revolt. Want world peace. Want so many things. It is a beautifully woven tale of a protest. As a reader, you see all sides of the protest. All the characters are struggling to achieve their strongest passions. Finding your son. Fighting for what you believe is right for the world. Fun fact, the author had the original manuscript stolen. When rewriting it, he focused on the characters that he really had passion for. I believe this is one of the reasons why you will find this book so amazing. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2016
It starts with a disaster that ripples into the world of so many different people. This is a continuous story told from the people that are knowingly and unknowingly involved. It sounds incredibly depressing, but I promise that it is not gut-wrenching. The story moves across so many people, so many places, and so many emotions that it is hard to describe it entirely. It is stunningly beautiful. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2016
I fell in love with Okparanta's short stories a couple years ago and very much looked forward to her first novel. This book has a stunning voice and a heartbreaking story. Set in war-torn Nigeria, it explores Ijeoma's life and love. It is a book examining a lesbian relationship in the most unforgiving of circumstances but speaks to so much more. For fans of Americanah and The Fishermen. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2016
SO EPIC!!! I am telling you that you are going to love a series of books set during the Opium Wars in China in the 1830s. I never knew that a havildar was something I could be so interested in. So many incredible characters to fall in love with. Each book stands alone in its brilliance, but, all together, it is an opus of magnificence. 1st book- Sea of Poppies 2nd book- River of Smoke. -Shane's February Staff Pick 2016
This book is full of so many dichotomies. Love and loss. Humor and sadness. Youth and growing old. Truly stunning and beautifully written. Alexandra grew up in Africa but moved to America. This book asks the question "where are you truly at home?" I laughed and cried and contemplated. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2016
You are going to have to forgive my language, but this book is super f---ked up. It should probably come with trigger warnings. All that included, I am still recommending this book for dark mystery readers. Fans of Gillian Flynn type readers. The main character is absolutely despicable, but you can tell there is some reason for it. And then it all comes crashing down. The shit hits the fan and you cannot put it down. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2015
The narrators of this book are a mother, her son, and the drug that controls the mother. I feel like this does as good a job as any to describe the book. To convince you to read it, I want to tell you that you just should. It came highly recommended, and I want to pass that on to you. It was moving and haunting and disturbing and hopeful. Read this book. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2015
This is the mystery your friends all need to read so that you can talk about it over a bottle of wine. It starts off with a huge bang and keeps going as you wonder just what in the world happened deep in the woods. Unlike other psychological mysteries, you will like the characters and honestly fear for their safety. This debut novel from a debut publisher will make you fall in love with both the author and everyone who made this book happen. Read it and give a copy to your friend. -Shane's August Staff Pick, 2015
I have stayed in my fair share of seedy motels and completely feel like the mind can immediately go to the darkest places. In Little Pretty Things, we are taken to one of those dark places with the death of an estranged best friend who has returned to her small town holding secrets (and a very large diamond). I am a HUGE fan of Lori Rader-Day. She just keeps getting better. Her twists and turns keep you on the tips of your toes. Also, her characters are so vivid like you have known them for years. If you want to read a great mystery that really makes you feel, read this book! -Shane's July Staff Pick, 2015
Not only is the title great, but the book is too! The plot run-down kinda says what you need to know, but you should know that this book delivers on its promises. It is funny, sweet, and adventurous. The characters are perfectly created (especially if you know a professor from a liberal arts university). It reminded me so much of my college days. Oh the shenanigans! -Shane's June Staff Pick 2015
I picked up this book to get a feel for the type of short stories Liam was writing. I was about to host his event, but I didn't have time to read the whole thing. So, I read Listen, the title story, and immediately knew that this was an amazing book. I started at the beginning and could not put it down. These stories are beautiful, shocking, concise, and compelling. Each story has its own reasons to read and love, but the collection as a whole gives such a breadth of human existence and style. I found it irresistible. For something not being on my to-read list to being one that I feel urged to recommend is surprising to me. Read Listen & Other Stories. -Shane's June Staff Pick, 2015
This is a definite must for historical fiction fans. This book was not at all what I thought it would be. And that is a good thing. I thought this would be a book wholly about the child molestation scandal in the church. But it was so much more. The beauty of a historical novel set in recent history is how current and yet far away the world seems. Spanning several decades in modern Ireland's rocky history, we get a picture of a man, a family, the church, the world around us. And the ending was so powerful. -Shane's June Staff Pick, 2015
BETTY! In so many ways, this is almost a story of my life. I grew up gay in a small Missouri town. It is not easy, but it is often amusing. I did something I have not done in so many years. I dog-eared pages in the book because I knew that they were something I would want to come back to again and again. Read this book! -Shane's May Staff Pick, 2015
Not your run-of-the-mill mystery. At the core is a teenage girl who has disappeared while on a run. Her family had been vacationing in Colorado. The story lies with how her family copes with the everyday struggle of living with hope. It is beautifully crafted and works with present day and flashbacks. This book was not what I was expecting, but I was not disappointed. -Shane's April Staff Pick, 2015
If you want to read an incredible, epic, globetrotting, character driven book, then read this book! I found this book when it popped up on several "best of 2014" lists and the synopsis intrigued me. It is hard to say what I loved most about this book. I would like to say that it all just worked so well. Art, the Odyssey, sports, travel, anarchy, and a sprawling quest. Read it and love it. -Shane's March Staff Pick, 2015
Richard Blanco's memoir Prince of Los Cocuyos surprised me with how much I loved it. Full of humor and genuine heartfelt moments, Blanco describes his childhood growing up in a first-generation household. I think the best message the book gives is how to overcome misunderstanding. Definitely one of the best books I read this year. -Shane's February Staff Pick, 2015
There are so many important things about this book. Racism, hazing, sexual identity, family relationships. You will want to pass this on to your friends so that you can have someone to talk to. I think the third and fourth chapters contain some of the most personal and significant moments in the book. The power of Blow's writing and how raw his story is will make you open your eyes to the world of deep South post-Segregation lives. Fire Shut Up In My Bones has a place in history. -Shane's January Staff Pick, 2015
You will want to become a stage actor and perform all of these wonderful short gems to all of your friends. They, of course, will need to buy tickets to your performance and bring at least a dozen roses to throw at your feet when they finally stop crying from all the laughing they have done. They will praise you and your comic genius. You will then have to come clean and tell them that you did not write this. Bob Odenkirk did. They will still thank you. But they will never trust you again. -Shane's Holiday Staff Pick, 2015
The thrilling conclusion of the Elemental Series by Antony John is the perfect way to wrap things up. I am recommending that you read this entire series (if you haven't already). Antony is a local author that we LOVE. Pirates, supernatural powers, plague, and love. It is a wonderful book. The author said he wrote the book for the 14 year old version of himself, but I feel like it reaches out to the inner-teen in everyone. -Shane's November Staff Pick, 2014
Stunning, moving, & beautiful. I could not put this down. I took it everywhere for two days, popping it out every opportunity I had. Maybe not the best idea since I ended up crying in my car in a parking lot. So crying happened. -Shane's November Staff Pick, 2014
I love this picture book! It has everything I have ever needed in a story. There is love and dragons. I want everyone to read this book.
Brendan Wenzel can draw any animal. I believe that is entirely correct. This is just a beautiful book that will put a smile on everyone's face.