Staff Picks by Nikki
A fun, fast-moving middle-grade adventure story with lots of humor. After feisty Maeve gets in trouble once again at her Victorian London boarding school for "Upright Young Ladies" she's forced to sort through the school's garbage. Amazingly, she discovers an old sardine tin that contains a grouchy djinni and his 3 wishes. After her first wish is wasted and her secret's been exposed, others try to steal the djinni for their own selfish purposes. Maeve, with the help of her roommate, Alive, and Tom, an orphan boy, has to use her ingenuity and spunk to retrieve her djinni and decide what to do with her last wish. Along the way she learns a lot about herself and about friendship means. Will she use her last wish for her own dreams, or will she be a true friend and give it away?
Ages 8+ - reviewed by Nikki
Exciting, fast-paced story of Christopher, the apprentice to an apothecary who is involved in several mysterious deaths. One of the best kids' novels I've read this year. I felt like I was in their world for days afterwards! - Nikki
The best kids' book I read in the last year! Funny and heart-tugging. Spunky and inventive Gertie is determined to win her mother's admiration to keep her from moving away, but her plans keep going awary in funny ways. "The bullfrog was only half-dead, which was perfect." - Nikki
Nothing can make one feel happier to be forced to shelter in place than contemplating being in Thomas Cromwell’s shoes. The blacksmith’s son who rose to be the most trusted and honored adviser to an increasingly erratic and dangerous Henry VIII was in a situation in which it was impossible to win. In this third volume in the Booker Prize-winning series Henry goes through the last 4 of his 6 wives, while Cromwell tries to help him fend off Scotland, France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, while also avoiding the plague, the “sweating sickness,” and scheming noblemen determined to destroy him. Mantel’s writing is lively and modern with frequent sword-thrusts of wit, and she sees into the hearts of the major players who, in history, have often been portrayed as villains. A great read—you’ll be pulled into another world, but one that has parallels to our own. - reviewed by Nikki
The Searcher by Tana French is one of the three best adult books I've read this year, and I think, the best she's written. Like her other psychological thrillers, this book shows her deep understandign of people and fine quality of her writing. But it also includes more humor than her other books, and unforgettable characters. Cal Hooper is a Chicago cop who takes early retirement and moves to a small village in Ireland to heal from the stresses of his job and his divore. But he gradually becomes involved in a mystery there through helping a local kid who seems to need a steadying adult influence. I read this book as slowly as possible because I didn't want it to end! And it's one of those books that stays with you for days afterwards - an atmospheric trip to Ireland.
Adult Mystery - reviewed by Nikki
While Dolssa runs from those who would burn her at the stake as a heretic, fellow travelers must decide whether to hide her or turn her in. The author makes you believe you're in pre-Inquisition Provence and the story adn characters stay with you for days afterwards. Powerful story of taking a stand for your beliefs and the makings of friendship. - Nikki
You'll get sucked into this mystery with a wry sense of humor just as curmudgeon Sheldon Horowitz does. As he reluctantly moves in with his granddaughter in Oslo, Norway, he becomes involved in protecting a young boy and in the process is changed. One of my favorites. - Nikki
Just won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography! I've read everything by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder and I still found this fascinating. It describes not only her life and that of her family; but put it into the historical context. Amazing stories, such as the 1,800 mile-long cloud of locusts. - Nikki
Beautifully written, grabs-you-in-the-gut story of Celi's first crush, conflicting with a long-time friendship, mixed with the turbulence of her emotions around getting her first period. See how she's wrapped in love by her female relations ina ceremony based on her Mesoamerican ancestors. - Nikki
You’ve got to love a Wyoming sheriff who’s strong and stoic but also humane and a quoter of literature and philosophy! In Land of Wolves, Walt Longmire’s investigating the death of a Basque shepherd and its possible link to a powerful family with a violent past, all while a renegade wolf is roaming the mountains picking off sheep, and possibly, men. Johnson’s plots are always strong, but it’s the relationships between the characters that make the books so addicting.If you’re looking for an especially exciting plot, try his previous book The Depth of Winter. Longmire leaves Wyoming for Mexico to track down his adult daughter, who’s been kidnapped. He seeks help from a contact in a bar in Juarez, and Johnson writes, “His face became somber, and his mouth hung open as if he were tasting the air between us like a snake.” It ramps up from there! - reviewed by Nikki
It’s always hard to wait for the next Charles Lenox mystery to come out, and they keep getting better all the time. In this one, a man’s body is found one night in 1855 on the last train into Paddington Station, but he has no identification, luggage, or possessions and the labels are cut out of his clothes. Where does detective Lenox start? At the same time, Lenox is hoping that his relationship with Kitty Ashbrook will deepen. Finch’s characters are so engaging and show all the foibles of human nature, and his Victorian London setting is as delightful as ever—you can practically taste the tea and toast and feel the creeping mists. - reviewed by Nikki