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We love connecting reader's to their next "read."
Please feel free use this link to access the list of the October RA Staff Picks.
Title: I Want to Be a Vase
Author: Julio Torres Illustrator: Julian Glander
Juvenile Fiction Picturebook
By far one of the strangest kid's books that I've read in a while! It's about a toilet plunger that wants to be a vase. Throughout the story, there are plenty of other objects wishing to be something else, like a hair dryer that wants to be a vacuum cleaner. In the end, the household objects find creative ways to achieve their dreams! What really got me with this book are the illustrations. The art style uses 3-D shapes and a heavily saturated color palette, giving it a visually unique look that reminds me of stop motion animation.
Title: The Last Straw (The Jigsaw Files, no. 4)
Author: Sharon Sala
The series finale brings us back to Charlie Dodge and Wyrick as they scramble to stop a murderer from claiming another victim. A woman reports that her sister has disappeared from her Dallas apartment and no clues have been left behind to point them in the right direction. Meanwhile, Wyrick is still grappling with a secretive, corrupt organization from her past that is now threatening her life. Charlie is deeply concerned for Wyrick and goes above and beyond to help eliminate this threat, but can he put aside his own challenges to save both Wyrick and a missing person?
Title: The Warmth of Other Suns
Author: Isabel Wilkerson
An epic and historical story of how and why millions of Black Americans left the South between 1915 and 1970 to escape the brutality of the Jim Crow Laws and find safety, better pay, and more freedom in what is known today as "The Great Migration."
Title: The Harry Bosch Series
Author: Michael Connelly
Instead of just one book, I have chosen a series I love this time! Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch is a Vietnam War Veteran and a tough LAPD Detective fighting for justice, no matter what the consequences. When you read a series you get a much deeper character background allowing you to really 'inhabit' the story. Life experience has helped Harry form his own code of justice for all.
Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
The first in a dangerous and action-packed trilogy set in a dystopian world. After graduation, the best and the brightest high school students are selected to participate in the United Commonwealth program to become potential leaders in a struggling post-war civilization. However, as the main character, Cia, is initiated into the program, she quickly realizes that the stakes are far higher than she anticipated and she must fight to survive The Testing.
The Testing was a thrilling story that inspired me academically and one that I really enjoyed for the action. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games or Red Rising, I would absolutely recommend this book.
Title: All Around Bustle Town - Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall (Series)
Author: Routraut Suzanne Berner
Wordless Picture Book
This is a four book series that is like Richard Scarry's Busy World, but with a European flair on steroids. Your child will spend hours pouring over the detailed illustrations and eventual tell their own stories as they follow the busy lives of the people, flora and fauna in a quaint town. This would make a great holiday gift for a child 2 to 5 years old!!
Title: N'Ice Cream - 80+ Recipes for Healthy Homemade Vegan Ice Creams
Author: Virpi Mikkonnen & Tuulia Talvio
This cookbook of healthy and unusual ice cream, ice pops, sorbets, milkshakes, ice cream cakes & cookies had me drooling before I opened the cover. I had originally checked out the book for a research assignment without really anticipating the wonderful contents.
With my love of the icy treat, this book written by two Finnish ice cream lovers and food bloggers has me sold on the healthy versions crafted within. Whether you're vegan or just looking for a way to still include dessert in your daily diet, these super easy and wholesome alternatives will leave you feeling good about taking that bite without a single twinge of regret. Yummy!
Title: Answers in the Pages
Author: David Levithan
Realistic Juvenile Fiction
A children's book about book banning and what happens when books are challenged. In the story, Donovan and his classmates really enjoy reading a "challenged book" and don't see why there would be any problem with its ambiguous ending. However, when Donovan's mother reads it, she doesn't think it's suitable for children and asks the school to remove it from the reading list. This confrontation sparks debate among the school community as parents and students come together to make a final decision on the fate of the book. I think the story is great for its realistic portrayal of the types of conversations that happen when books get challenged.
Title: Blind Faith (The Jigsaw Files, no. 3)
Author: Sharon Sala
In the third installment of this series, we find PI Charlie Dodge still struggling with the rapidly deteriorating condition of his wife, Annie. At the same time, a teenage boy vanishes while on a camping trip with friends, and Charlie is brought on to solve the case. His highly capable assistant is doing all she can to help, but is spread thin when forced to confront a dark part of her past that comes back to haunt her.
Another fast-moving nail-biter that will bring you through the whole spectrum of emotions right to the very end.
Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
This book is about a young girl named Elsa whose observations of adult behavior are hilariously candid and insightful. She takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins.
Title: Boy's Life
Author: Robert McCammon
A little mystery...a little spooky....but mostly an excellent coming-of-age story.
Author: Colleen Hoover
A must-read if you’re looking for something spooky that will leave you with trust issues. I opened the book, read the first line, said “oh jeez” out loud, and then proceeded to be shocked, thrilled, and disturbed throughout the rest of the story and even after I had finished it (check the trigger warnings before you dive in).
Verity is a suspenseful thriller about a writer named Lowen who takes over writing a series for a prolific author, Verity, who has been in a terrible accident. As she sifts through Verity’s office materials, Lowen begins to make horrifying discoveries about Verity and the life that she shares with a husband and several children.
Title: Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles Series, no.1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
These stories are about a boy who embarks on a dangerous quest to fulfill his destiny in a strange and exciting world beneath New York City. The tale begins with a laundry room grate, where Gregor drops through in order to save his little sister. They fall, like Alice in Wonderland, into the dark Underland where giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats coexist with humans.
This was Suzanne Collins debut novel for 8 to 12 year olds, before THE HUNGER GAMES series.She started her career as a TV writer and this series has visually fantastical world building along with full character development.
Don't miss this tale of family love, adventure, and suspense! There's loads of subtle humor....I love that she made the giant cockroaches lovable.
Title: The Shell Seekers
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
This classic book by one of my favorite authors cemented my love for Porthkerris (Cornwall) and the Keeling family. An amazing family saga, it's told from a multiplicity of views and beatifully intertwines the history of the main character/family grande dame Penelope with that of her past and present family. The Shell Seekers is actually the title to a famous painting by Penelope's father, one that she holds dear. Encompassing three generations, the story begins in the wake of Penelope's unexpected health crisis opening the door to a chain of remembrances - from her bohemian (often unconventional) childhood, her WWII romance and ensuing events, to present day familial struggles and final culmination in an impromptu trip to the place of fondest memory.
Filled with heartfelt emotion, the book explores the secrets, desires, and misfortunes of the Keelings (et al.) and will keep you up late turning pages as you live vicariously through their experiences. A MUST READ!
Title: The Soul of an Octopus: a surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness
Author: Sy Montgomery
It's a really interesting book that delves into the lives of various octopi and the way they interact with the world. Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who explores animal intelligence and personality. In this book, Sy visits the New England Aquarium, and meets not only the various animals who reside there, but also the staff of people who take care of them. I thought it was really fascinating to see the relationship between the caretakers and the octopi - anyone who has their own pets at home knows just how much personality dogs and cats have, but we rarely consider the possibility that other animals also have their own personalities.
Title: Second Sight (The Jigsaw Files, no. 2)
Author: Sharon Sala
After receiving a tip from a mother whose daughter has been abducted, Charlie Dodge and his assistant, Wyrick, embark on a mission to stop a cult whose goal is to breed a race of people with psychic abilities. The cult has assembled a group of men with supernatural powers, each of whom is given a young girl to marry in exchange for one of their own daughters. Charlie and Wyrick head to the cult's headquarters and, with the help of the FBI, attempt to infiltrate and release the children from captivity.
This is a fast-moving story with lots of twists and turns and was nearly impossible to put down!
Title: Caleb's Crossing
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Inspired by a true story and narrated by an English puritan girl, Bethia. This writer brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of her friendship with Caleb who is Native American and is the first Native American to graduate from Harvard.
Title: Heart-Shaped Box
Author: Joe Hill
An aging death-metal rock god, Judas Coyne, is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals... a used hangman's noose... a snuff film. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as an item he learns is for sale on the Internet. For a thousand dollars, Jude will become the proud owner of a dead man's suit, said to be haunted by the deceased's restless spirit. Judas has spent a lifetime coping with ghosts - of an abusive father, of the lovers he callously abandoned, of the bandmates he betrayed - so what's one more? Truly creepy...I loved it!
Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
A great read about a reporter who must return to her hometown to cover the murders of two young girls. Recently discharged from a psych hospital, the main character Camille Preaker is facing her own demons, made worse as she returns to a dysfunctional home within a disturbing town.
Gillian Flynn has a way of making even mundane things like weather feel disturbing and unsettled that creates a chilling tone, and her plot kept me guessing until the very end. Check the trigger warnings before reading, though.
Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Author: John Boyner
YA Historical Fiction
This is a riveting introduction to the atrocities of the Holocaust for young adults.
The story follows a young German boy who lives a happy, privileged life in Berlin in 1942. His high ranking military father gets a promotion and the family moves far away to a new home where there are no other children to play with and nothing to do.
The only thing in his landscape is a tall, tall fence that goes on as far as he can see. It cuts him off from strange looking people, including a skinny boy in striped pajamas. The two young boys become best friends which leads to horrible consequences for both boys.
I found the juxtaposition of innocence and evil so disturbing that I remember details of this work more than 15 years after I read this book. Outstanding!
Author: Ruth Reichl
Billie Breslin has moved from home and family in California to New York to work at Delicious! - NY's reknowned food magazine. Homesick and missing her older sister, she just begins to find a new family in the quirky, well-meaning magazine staff and the ebullient and welcoming food vendors, when the magazine is suddenly closed. Billie is offered the chance to continue to work at the empty office running the reader's complaint hotline (while working part-time at the most WONDERFUL Italian food store), so she can remain in NY and pay her bills.
While working in her new capacity, Billie explores the old office building and discovers letters written from 12-year-old Lulu to James Beard (yes, the great chef) during WW II. The letters bring to life history through the eyes of a resourceful young girl and the then young famous foodie during a period of fear, deprivation and hardship. The intertwining of the historical narrative with the modern-day (often random and ridiculous) complaints from the hotline against a rich tableau of food and flavor, provides Billie the chance to finally come to terms with her own fears and to recognize her innermost strengths and desires.
Whenever I need to laugh, cry, laugh, salivate over wonderful food, and come away feeling the better for taking the time, I re-read this book. It is truly one of my all-time favorites and is well-worn and much loved. Ruth Reichl is a gem of a writer and her books are food for the heart and mind.
Author/Illustrator: Haruichi Furudate
YA Graphic Novel/Manga
One manga series I really like is Haikyu!! by Haruichi Furudate. Me and my friends actually binge-watched the anime a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Of course, reading the book always adds more to the story! The premise of it is really simple- it’s about a boys high school volleyball club. The story is really character driven, and you end up feeling super invested in every win and loss the team experiences. I knew pretty much nothing about volleyball going into it, and I’m not super into sports either. By the time you finish the series you end up knowing a lot about volleyball, and are convinced you could probably do it too (spoiler alert: you definitely can’t). The series is a fun, light read, and one that I always end up coming back to as my go-to comfort series.
Title: The Missing Piece (The Jigsaw Files, no. 1)
Author: Sharon Sala
Well-known private investigator Charlie Dodge is all too familiar with having things and people disappear. His wife, Annie, has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and now struggles to remember parts of their life together and, at times, even Charlie himself. So when multimillionaire Carter Dunleavy goes missing, Charlie and his assistant, Wyrick, are more than ready to help find him. Along the way, they discover that Dunleavy is actually being hunted down by someone he knows and has gone into hiding. Spurred on by this realization, Charlie and Wyrick race to find answers before Dunleavy disappears for good.
Title: Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Author: Mark T. Sullivan
This book is an inspiring and compelling true story of Pino Lello who is a forgotten war hero who joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps after his family home in Milan, Italy is destroyed by Allied Bombs. In an attempt to protect him, Pino's parents force him to enlist as a German soldier where he would be in a position to spy on the Allies.
Author: Brooke Morgan
A thriller by Brooke Morgan, a Bostonian now living in England. The story is very predictable (and really, is anyone as gullible as Holly?) BUT it is located in good old Wareham (with a little geographical rearranging). Come for the story, stay for the scenery!
Title: Stormbreaker (Alex Rider series, Book 1)
Author: Anthony Horowitz
YA Adventure Fiction
I've only reread a handful of books in my life and the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz was one that was well worth the time. A fiction series for young adults, Alex Rider is an exciting story about a young man who is recruited by MI6 and becomes involved in dangerous and thrilling adventures. The story is full of gadgets, stealthy spy operations, action-packed fights, and nail-biting risks.
Reading this series as a teenager gave me all of the wonderful excitement that I loved in other stories like Inspector Gadget or Spy Kids, but it was also really impactful for the lessons it taught me at such a volatile age. It was an escape from, but also validating and encouraging in the struggles of teenage life. Even through extreme examples, the story taught me about relationships and finding out how to navigate the stress of life and finding one’s own identity and worth while trying to care for others. I think it was a really impactful read, but also so enjoyable – I would absolutely recommend it for young adults!
Author: Marissa Meyer
YA Science Fiction/Fairy Tale adaptation
The center of future Earth is New Beijing where a young prince assumes leadership after his father, the king dies as a result of a deadly plague ravaging the Earth.
Cinder is a gifted mechanic who is part cyborg due to a horrific accident in her mysterious past. She is considered a second-class citizen and is reviled by her step-mother.
Prince Kai and Cinder meet at the marketplace while she repairs his personal robot and Cinder suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle with a forbidden love interest. She must uncover her past, find out why the Lunar Queen wants her dead, and save both the Earth's and the Lunar future.
Non-stop excitement! First story in a quartet with an extra novella thrown in.
Title: Olive, Again
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Olive is a startling frank and willful character. She is 'of an age' and doesn't hesitate to use her senior status to speak her mind - and she has much to say. Her interactions with her friends, neighbors, former students, and strangers allow the reader a brief glimpse of the essence of their exchanges and the effect the engagement has upon both parties in an original and plain-speaking manner. Love or hate Olive, you will never forget her and her candid view of herself and her world.
Title: Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror
Author/Illustrator: Junji Ito
My Halloween book pick! Ito has a cult following for his horror mangas, and Uzumaki was the first one I've read. His manga style relies on an interesting mix of body horror and cosmic horror to create some really insane illustrations. Out of all of his stories, Uzumaki stands out the most for me, because the basic plot is simply a town taken over by spirals. Sounds weird, right? The story gets stranger and stranger the more you read. I'm not a huge horror fan, but Uzumaki was compelling enough for me to finish it in a day.
Author: James Patterson and David Ellis
After her sister's life is claimed by what appears to be an accidental fire, FBI research analyst Emily Dockery becomes obsessed with a string of similar fires that have taken place across the country. With each passing day, she is more convinced that these are not accidents but cold-blooded homicides committed by a mastermind criminal. Her colleagues, however, are not convinced at all. Can Emily amass enough evidence and change their minds in time before more lives are lost?
Title: The Language of Flowers
Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
This book beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others, even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
Title: An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good
Author: Helene Tursten
Did you ever want to be of an age when you could say/do anything? Well Maud is, and she's out for revenge. In a series of vignettes you will learn the crime and the punishment.This is the first in a series and it's really fun.
Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Science Fiction/Dystopian Earth
A global conflict on Earth has left society divided into color-coded tiers, with the lowest classes serving the upper classes in territories throughout space. The story follows a young man in the lowest class, the ‘Reds,’ who works in the mines on Mars until something happens that drives him to infiltrate high society and destroy it from the inside. I love this book because the author does an incredible job at taking real current and past events and creating a fictional future that is believable, with enough familiarity that it isn’t overwhelming. The plot is fast-paced and exciting, with plenty of action. It has really cool references to mythology, and the characters are complex, each with their own depth and development. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys things like The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, or Lord of the Flies.
Title: CROSSINGS: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
Author: Katy S. Duffield Illustrator: Mike Orodan
Title: Make Way for Animals! A World of Wildlife Crossings
Author: Meeg Pincus Illustrator: Bao Luu
Juvenile Non-Fiction Picture Books
I look around my world and see construction everywhere and notice more wildlife around me because they’ve been displaced. Two recent nonfiction picture books address this problem with gorgeous illustrations and unique solutions for our animal friends all around the world. The books showcase fascinating illustrations, many unique animals, and exotic habitats!
Title: The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice Series - Book 1)
Author: John Flanagan
YA Science Fiction/Adventure
It's choosing day and time for the 15 year old orphans of Redmont Castle to pick an apprenticeship or area of study. Will is desperately hoping to get selected for Battleschool...but is rejected. See what happens when his actual apprenticeship with the Rangers, with their mottled cloaks and mysterious ways, leads him into an epic adventure with heroes, villains and wonderful friendships. A fabulous coming of age story with the least-likely characters saving the day - regardless of gender, age, experience - using their own practical know-how and the strength of their friendships. Flanagan has created a wholly believable world peopled with rich characters and excellent challenges. I didn't expect to like this book when I first picked it up (National Book Day, 2012), but have been a huge fan of the series and the author ever since.