Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

September 7, 2015

Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel

Dreamer’s Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel
by Marillier, Juliet

Growing up, I loved tales of mystery and magic. A well-crafted fairy tale was a treasure, and Dreamer’s Pool is just such a story. In this first book of her new series “Blackthorn and Grim,” well-established author Juliet Marillier entices the reader with elements of action, romance, vengeance, and morality. Set in the fictional kingdom of Erin, loosely based on medieval Ireland, main characters Blackthorn and Grim aren’t your typical hero and heroine. Both have literally tortured pasts that have left deep scars on their bodies and psyches. At the eleventh hour, Blackthorn is offered a deal by the fey nobleman Conmael. He will free her from prison and imminent execution, in exchange for her promise to use her skills as a healer in a small village, helping any in need who may come to her. She must also put aside her desire for vengeance against her tormentors for seven years. Though skeptical of Conmael’s motives, Blackthorn accepts the deal freeing both herself and Grim to make a new life in a faraway hamlet with more than its share of excitement. Enter a scholarly prince, villainous baker, traumatized lap dog, and an enigmatic giant whose stories are seamlessly woven into the main storyline of Blackthorn’s attempts fulfill her geas. I highly recommend this book for lovers of fantasy, dark fairy tales, historical fiction mystery, suspense, or anyone looking for a good yarn.

Dreamer’s Pool is also available as a downloadable e-book.

                    --Recommended by Katherine McFarland, Lawrence Library


August 31, 2015

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
by Allison, Peter
916.88304 ALL

Allison began working as a safari guide as a teenager. His first job, however, was less than glamorous: it was his job to get alcohol to the camp for the tourists. Like motorists who become complacent with their drive to work, Allison let his guard down, didn’t listen to the warning “Ka-weeeeeee!” of the Grey Lourie. So he stopped to remove a pebble from his shoe, hopped around a bit getting it back on, and then rounded a fallen log, surprising a pair of massive lions. “The time it took for them to get from where they were to where I stood was too short for my life to flash before my eyes.” While he claims no heroic actions on his part, he does admit thinking—of all things—that if he drops the 24-pack of beer he’s carrying, it will get all fizzed up. But what he didn’t do was run. He stood his ground and lived to tell the tale. For me, roughing it is having to use a different brand of shampoo, so it’s a sure thing that I will never sign up for a safari in Botswana. But if I should ever find myself there, I would want Allison at my side—not only as a guide (and, let’s face it, protector), but also with the hope that he would share more of his wonderful stories of life in the Otovango Delta.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

         --Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


August 24, 2015

The Graveyard Book: The Graphic Novel

The Graveyard Book: The Graphic Novel
by Russell, P. Craig, adapting Neil Gaiman's novel

I think you should usually read a book before you see the movie, but what about graphic novel adaptations? Should you always read the novel first, before you read the graphic version? I haven't read Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, but I went ahead and read P. Craig Russell's 2-volume graphic adaptaion; and I loved it.

If you don't know the story: A child's family is murdered (a blood-dripping knife is the book's first picture) and, pacifier in mouth, the boy climbs from his crib, heads out the door, wanders up the street and into the graveyard, where he is adopted by spirits of the dead, much as Mowgli is adopted by animals in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

And there's Silas, who isn't the ghost of a dead person but who isn't quite a living person; and there are ghouls; and there's this underground thing called the Sleer; and, most unsettlingly of all, in some ways, there are live human visitors from the outside world.

Different artists illustrated different chapters, but P. Craig Russell brought it all together wonderfully. Here's a link to the second volume.

And the graphic Graveyard Book is available in Spanish: El Libro del Cementerio. Primer Volumen. Segundo Volumen.

        — Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology, but soon to be in our new Communications Department


August 17, 2015

Amy Falls Down

Amy Falls Down
by Willet, Jincy

Amy Falls Down is about what happens to Amy after she falls down: it’s a series of events that neither Amy nor the reader could foresee. Amy is a writer with writer’s block and a self-proclaimed hermit with plenty of caring friends and a newfound penchant for adventure. Readers get a glimpse into the writer’s life and the book publishing industry, as it works today. Amy Falls Down is a follow-up to Willet’s mystery, The Writing Class – the books share the same protagonist and several supporting characters. I read the books out of order, but I found that the enigmatic references to the preceding events had just the right amount of mystery, so that when I read The Writing Class, I was still entranced and surprised at the end.

                   --Recommended by Mikayla Kinley, College Avenue Library


August 10, 2015

Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble

Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble
by Johnson, Marilyn
930.1 JOH

If, like me, you grew up watching Harrison Ford play the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones - never without his trusty whip and worn fedora, always ready to get into a fistfight over some priceless relic or another - your notion of what being a practicing archaeologist is like is probably inaccurate to say the least. If you are interested in rectifying that, you should pick up Marilyn Johnson’s recent book, which provides readers a glimpse into the real world experiences of archaeologists working today at sites around the globe. No, there are no whips or Nazis or fanatical cults, but what there is instead is a fascinating examination of what it’s really like to make your living sifting through the debris human beings have left behind. It’s not a particularly glamorous life, and the archaeologists featured in Johnson’s book will likely never become household names, but what carries through is their love of the past and unwavering commitment to preserving history so that it can continue to educate and be enjoyed by future generations. You will walk away from this book with a newfound sense of wonder at how much can be learned about life in times gone by from the smallest scraps of pottery and wood, and with a renewed appreciation for those individuals who try to make the past a little clearer for all of us. And, if you’re anything like me, Johnson’s book will make you look at that rusty nail you dug up from your garden or the old, yellowed newspaper you found hidden behind your drywall in an entirely new way.

Lives in Ruins is also available as a downloadable e-book and an audiobook on CD.

                --Recommended by Abby Relue, Central Library