Staff Picks

Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun Book Cover

This is a harsh, honest, fast-moving and engaging book that will, hopefully, make you reconsider the principles of war. Joe loses all his limbs, his face: nose, eyes, mouth and his hearing. With no way to communicate he is left to contemplate his short 20 year life, how he got here and what future, if any, he has. The novel pulls you in as Joe contemplates everything from love and friendship to philosophy and morals. He creates an elaborate system to determine how much time passes, and more suspenseful, wonders if he will ever communicate with the outside world again. Most powerful, he contemplates the terrors of war that are kept far from public view; speaking of ‘The Great War’, but universal to those today: “anybody who went out and got into the front line trenches to fight for liberty was a goddamn fool and the guy who got him there was a liar”.

One Summer

One Summer Book Cover

This is book is about a man Jack, who has served our country in the Middle East and survived , yet he has developed a terminal illness and is not supposed to live past the holidays. Most of his life was spent traveling which left little time to develop a relationship with his kids. He has already written letters to his wife (Lizzie) and kids to be opened upon his death. Then on Christmas Eve, his wife goes out in an ice storm to pick up his medicine and dies in a car accident and the miracle happens! He then begins to recover from his illness and is determined to begin a new life with starting to be a better dad. Unfortunately his mother in law has other plans to raise her grandchildren so the battle begins to rebuild his family. Enjoy the journey from Ohio to a small town in South Carolina where Jack begins to rebuild his family and finds himself in love again. One would think this book was written by a female by the way it is written.

The Christmas Wedding

The Christmas Wedding Book Cover

The Christmas Wedding is not your typical Patterson book. It is a brief magical story about, Gabby Summerhill, whose husband died three years ago and her four children who have not been together since the death of their father. One day Gabby calls all four children (who each have their own share of problems) with the news of her upcoming wedding on Christmas day. She asks them to be with her on this special day to marry the man of her dreams who has not been named to anyone. She also has one more gift to give them all when they arrive for the special occasion. The authors take the reader through several twists along the way before discovering who the groom will be.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Book Cover

This is a very unusual book whose plot is punctuated by antique photographs. Unique for the young adult genre, it contains a bit of a mystery that will appeal to teens and adults both.

Nightwoods : a novel

Nightwoods : a novel Book Cover

Written by the author of Cold Mountain, this novel takes place in the same area of N. Carolina but in the early 1950's. Living in an abandoned rural lodge, Lure is a young woman suddenly in the position to raise sister's young twins. Neither of them has spoken a word since witnessing their mother's brutal murder. Their father is aquitted and released from jail and the novel becomes a story of suspense. Frazier has a powerful ability to depict sights and sounds of the Carolina backwoods and uses fire and water as important themes. Nightwoods moves quickly to a satisfying conclusion.

Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai Book Cover

Life and Death in Shanghai is Cheng’s first-hand account of her life during China’s Cultural Revolution. It is a haunting narrative of Cheng’s years of imprisonment for being wrongly accused of being an imperialist spy. During her imprisonment, Cheng never gave up and never gave in to lies and false denunciations. Her story is heartbreaking, courageous, and unforgettable.

Leviathan

Leviathan Book Cover

If you are curious about the steampunk genre-this is a classic example. This book takes place during World War I as Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated and the world goes to war. That is when the story takes a twist into an imaginary world. The conflict is between the Clankers, who create machines that run on steam, and the Darwinists, who create new species. Prince Aleksandar, whose people turn against him after his parents’ assassination, is a Clanker. He meets Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy working for the British Air Service. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive airship that crashes in Switzerland where the two teens cross paths. The story is exciting all the way to the end, when you will be left wanting to know what happens next.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Book Cover

This is the story of Kit Tyler, a teenager struggling to fit into her community in the year 1687. After her grandfather dies, she must move from Barbados to the Colony of Connecticut to live with her aunt’s family. She is regarded suspiciously by the members of the Puritanical community, because she swims, and is headstrong. She befriends a Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond and soon the community suspects Kit may be a witch. The story brings the historical period of witch hunts to life, but it is also a story of love and family.

One Thousand White Women : the Journals of May Dodd

One Thousand White Women : the Journals of May Dodd Book Cover

A fascinating story about May Dodd, a bright and cultured young woman living in the late 1800’s who was ahead of her time. Through a government program called “Brides for Indians” she gets sent to live with the Cheyenne Indians and tries to adopt their culture while still being true to herself. The author does an excellent job of combining history with an intriguing and imaginative story that was easy to read and hard to put down.

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale Book Cover

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale envisions a near future where the Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA) is controlled by religious leaders after a theocratic revolution in response to the degradation of society. Women were strictly controlled, had no jobs or money, and were assigned to various classes, one of which was the handmaids. Because of low population levels from wars and toxic waste, handmaids were responsible for replenishing the population. This novel is told through the handmaid Offred and her experience as life as a woman in the new republic.