Tag Archives: Staff Favorites

Our Staff’s Best of 2017, Part 2!

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the Upstairs Offices:

Flawless : Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History: On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring a single guard in the process.  Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years.  The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained largely a mystery…Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a global goose chase to uncover the true story behind the daring heist. Tracking the threads of the story throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend, in a story that earned a starred review from our staff, and from Booklist, who called it “an exciting and suspenseful story, and it reads like the best caper fiction, with lively characters and some surprising twists.”

A Court of Mist and Fury:  In the second book of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, we find Feyre returning to the Spring Court–but the cost of her journey is a steep one.  Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save her fiance. Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court.   Though grateful for her sacrifices Tamlin is all too happy to lock Feyre up in his castle and protect her from the many dangers of his world, making Feyre’s depression that much more difficult to handle.   She is rescued by Rhysand, the feared High Lord of the Night Court, who draws her into a dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power that is both fascinating and terrifying.  As dark political tensions brew, Feyre realizes that she has to power to shape the world for the better–but only if she can learn to harness her powers before it is too late.  This is a phenomenal series, with some dazzling world-building, and any fan of fantasy would do well to start this trilogy from the beginning, and learn just why USA Today called this series “A thrilling game changer that’s fiercely romantic, irresistibly sexy and hypnotically magical.”

From the Reference Desk:

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel For Humans:  A tail-wagging three hanky boo-hooer, this delightful fiction debut from Bruce Cameron proposes that a dog’s purpose might entail being reborn several times, and examines the life (lives) of one doggie as it journeys from family to family, story to story.  A book for anyone who admire canine courage, this is a heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny book that offers a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.  Temple Grandin, a world-respected animal scientist praised this book, saying “I loved the book and I could not put it down. It really made me think about the purpose of life.”  Bailey’s story continues in A Dog’s Journey, which is also a staff pick for this year!

 Slow HorsesSlough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore…Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them…One thing they all have in common, though, is that most of them would do anything to get back in the game─even if it means having to collaborate with one another.  River Cartwright, one such “slow horse,” is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. But is the victim who he first appears to be? And what’s the kidnappers’ connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda.  This is a funny, emotionally gripping, and absolutely sensational novel that proves that the spy genre didn’t die out in the Cold War.  Also, River Cartwright is one of my favorite characters of the year, and I cannot wait to follow him through the rest of the Slough House adventures!

Introducing: The Teen Room!

This week we are delighted to introduce a new voice to the Free-For-All–the marvelous members of our Teen Room–the same incredible people who brought you last year’s PILCon, and who are always on hand for the most up-to-date book recommendations around!  It’s a genuine pleasure to have this list of recommendations from the Teen Room, and we look forward to all the terrific announcements, book titles, and shenanigans that they will be bringing to the Free For All in the future! 

Here are some of the Teen Room’s Top Picks for this month:

FICTION

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

We’re pretty positive that you’ve heard about Youtube famous author John Green’s new book Turtles All They Way Down, but hey, if you’ve been living under a rock playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for weeks then here’s the scoop on the hottest new YA book on the press right now. Turtles All They Way Down combines heartfelt companionships with an amazing cast of characters as John Green continues his niche talent for writing emotion filled teen drama. The avid melodrama of Aza’s mental health battle leaves the reader rooting for her success and still wondering “what comes next?”. Plus, a murder mystery best friends super sleuth duo? Sign me up! This story focuses on first loves, best friends, and the harsh reality of dealing with mental health issues. One thing I will warn to readers is that the description of Aza’s symptoms can be triggering to some readers who also experience anxiety disorders or who have any mental health issues. The description of Aza’s compulsions to pick at her scab was enough to cause my skin picking compulsion to act up as well. Honestly, I chalk that up to Green’s incredible talent to bring such a visceral sensation to life through words. I’ll finish up by saying this book comes highly recommended and with my favorite quote from the story… “I, a singular noun, would go on, if always in a conditional tense.”

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

If you have been looking for a Europe vacation, LGBT, pirates, and hijinks filled novel, then let me say have I got the perfect one for you. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is Lee’s third novel and is already making its home into bookshelves and libraries. Nominated for Goodread’s YA Fiction Book of the Year The Gentleman’s Guide boasts a rich world full of life, characters that you’ll fall in love with, and more adventures than you can ever imagine. The journey is told through main character Henry “Monty” Montague, a debaucherous bisexual teenage boy, who has landed himself with a less than excited sister and a less than exciting chaperone on his and his best friends’ holiday across Europe. With his best friend (and longtime crush) Percy alongside him, the pair seek to have adventure despite the minor setbacks of unwanted company, but when Monty ends up putting his nose where it doesn’t belong their journey takes a turn for the unexpected. Lee’s characterization of Monty kills the male protagonist macho-ism trope quicker than The Cure can sing “Boy’s Don’t Cry”. His character has a full rounded feeling as we see different facets of his personality throughout the entire story. This can be said for all of the characters such as Felicity, Monty’s “kick-ass and take names” sister who shows incredible intelligence in extreme situations and devotion to her brothers wellbeing (though she may not admit it). This novel tackles issues such as race-inequality, disabilities, and homophobia in a realistic and heartfelt way that leaves a lasting impression after the book is closed. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to pretty much anyone who wants a much deserved contender for Book of the Year. … “I don’t think it’s a good idea to go courting trouble, is all.” “We’re not courting trouble,” I say. “Flirting with it, at most.”

NON-FICTION

Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World by Reshma Saujani

Since 2012, the organization Girls Who Code has been leading the charge to get girls interested in technology and coding. Now its founder, Reshma Saujani, wants to inspire you to be a girl who codes! This book is bursting with beautiful artwork, basic breakdowns of coding principles and stories from young girls and women in the career of coding! If you are a coding fanatic or someone who’s just getting started this book will hit all the points of learning and application that you will need. If coding is something you would like to explore further, you may also be interested in the Teen Makers class in our very own Creativity Lab located in the Lower Level of the Main Library Branch. Click on the link for more info!

NEW IN APPS

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Listen. I’m obsessed. I’ve always been a sucker for Nintendo’s cutesie side, whether it be Animal Crossing, Miitomo, or that tiny Toon Link in Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks. No matter what, they get me everytime…hook, line, and sinker. AC: Pocket Camp is a great game to keep on your smartphone or tablet and itches the scratch of completionists and game grinders. The app has a faithful feel to the original GameCube game as well as adding new features that integrate well with touch screen capabilities. You can definitely find yourself spending hours running requests for campers, fishing, crafting, and just enjoying the overall scenery. I haven’t found the need to purchase any leaf tickets yet, because the game offers log-in bonuses as well as rewards for completing daily goals that keep your inventory fairly stocked and money at a reasonable level. Right now the server needs improvement with the surge of players signing up, the crafting can be somewhat tedious and time consuming, and I wish I had more room to build new amenities but otherwise the game is enjoyable and great if you want to leave behind the real world for a few hours for some cute virtual glamping. This game requires a constant internet connection and I would definitely recommend sticking to WiFi because this app is a data eater. Have fun happy campers!

 

TEENS TOP PICKS OF DECEMBER

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Death & Life of Zebulon Finch by Daniel Kraus

Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Mally and Leslie Hung

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Our Staff’s Best of 2017!

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the West Branch:

Miller’s CrossingIn a small town on the verge of big change, a young woman unearths deep secrets about her family and unexpected truths about herself in this emotionally powerful story about a family you will never forget.  For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley.  As Mimi Miller eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”  Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home that The New York Times Book Review called “Overwhelmingly moving . . . In this novel, where so much is about what vanishes, there is also a deep beating heart, of what also stays.”

From the Main Library, Circulation Desk:

House of Mirth: Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton used her inside knowledge of upper class New York life in the early part of the 20th century as the basis for her 1905 novel, the blackly-comic tragedy of Lily Bart.  who seeks to secure a husband and a place in the society life of New York’s upper class. Lily, who was raised to strive for a socially and economically prosperous marital union, finds herself at the edge of thirty, her youthful beauty fading and her matrimonial prospects dwindling. The novel follows Lily’s descent down the social ladder over a period of two years as she circles the margins of New York’s upper class drawing closer to what seems an inevitable loneliness. Central to the theme of the novel is how the Victorian era offered women relatively few other alternatives to achieve upward social and economic mobility than through marriage. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth,” warns Ecclesiastes 7:4, and so does the novel by Edith Wharton that takes its title from this call to heed.

Sum: Tales from the Afterlifes:  At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives—each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning lens through which to see ourselves in the here and now.  In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.  With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.  Even better, the narrators of this audiobook (including Stephen Fry,  Gillian Anderson, and Emily Blunt) are stellar at conveying the humor, insight, and emotion of Eagleman’s work.  You can also check out the book via this link.

From the Main Library, Reference Desk:

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich: The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. But as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs. On the eve of World War II, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and companies such as Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers. In fact, troops regularly took rations of a form of crystal meth—the elevated energy and feelings of invincibility associated with the high even help to explain certain German military victories.  Drugs seeped all the way up to the Nazi high command and, especially, to Hitler himself. Over the course of the war, Hitler became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drugs—including a form of heroin—administered by his personal doctor. While drugs alone cannot explain the Nazis’ toxic racial theories or the events of World War II, Ohler’s investigation makes an overwhelming case that, if drugs are not taken into account, our understanding of the Third Reich is fundamentally incomplete.  In addition to being a terrific learning experience, this book is a pleasure to read, which isn’t an easy thing to say about all academic historical works!

We’ll see you next week, beloved patrons, with some more recommendations from our Best of 2017 Picks!

 

All-Hallows Read: Have You Met Shirley Jackson?

…If you have not, please allow me to introduce you to her, and her fantastical genius now.

From shirleyjackson.org

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco on December 14, 1916.  When she was seventeen (and had already been writing for several years), her family moved east, and Shirley enrolled in the University of Rochester.  She withdrew after a year, however, and focused exclusively on her writing, producing no less than 1,000 words a day.

In 1937, she entered Syracuse University, and published her first short story (titled “Janice”), and was appointed editor of the campus humor magazine.  She also met the man who would become her future husband, aspiring literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.  They both graduated in 1940, and moved to Greenwich Village.  Though she and Edgar worked odd jobs, Shirley kept writing every day, and her stories were published in the New Yorker, among other elite literary outlets.  In 1944 Jackson’s story “Come Dance With Me in Ireland” was chosen forBest American Short Stories.

The next year, Stanley was offered a job at Bennington College, and the family moved to North Bennington.  It was here, in this old house, in this insular community, that Jackson produced what is generally considered the greatest short story of the twentieth century: “The Lottery”.  Published in The New Yorker  in 1948, this story generated the largest volume of mail ever received by the magazine–a record that remains unbroken to this day–and nearly all of it hateful.

This story cemented Jackson in the public eye…not as an stunningly subversive, keenly insightful, and unsettlingly funny writer, but as “Virginia Werewoolf”.  To be fair, the fact that her described herself as an “amateur practicing witch”, who put hexes on prominent publishers, didn’t necessarily help.  But the tragic fact remains that Jackson’s glory still hasn’t been thoroughly recognized.

And that is a genuine shame.  First and foremost, Jackson is a mightily talented writer in so many forms.  As we can see with the infamous “The Lottery”, she had the art of the short story mastered.  And though “The Lottery” is probably the most well-known of her stories, the thing is that all of her stories are rich in atmosphere, full of indescribably realistic characters, and all of them have that wrenching, world-tilting twist that up-end everything you thought you knew about everything you just read.

That unsettling magic is on full display in her novels, as well.  The Haunting of Hill House is more than a haunted house novel…it’s a masterpiece of bewildering, terrifying confusion.  The walls and the floors of this story just don’t meet at right angles, and it’s that unbalancing that makes this story so flipping scary.  We Have Always Lived in a Castle twists the entire premise of the story–showing you the beating heart inside of a haunted house…and the twisted, wild, unapologetic women who live inside it.

And that, I think, is what I adore most about Shirley Jackson.  She doesn’t go for the cheap thrills, or the empty scares–the literary equivalent of the jump-cut.  Her stories force us to confront the evils and ills of society, of suburbia, and of our beliefs in each other.  She deals with the insidiousness of racism, the pervasive evils of small-towns, the poison of prejudice.  And she does it all in a such straightforward manner, with uncomplicated prose and gentle humor, that the savage twist comes without the reader even being aware of it.  She writes about women who aren’t strong and put-together and beautiful.  She writes about women who are lost.  About women who know rage.  About women who simply refuse to take it anymore, and who do the unexpected and the unthinkable.  And I love her for that.

Shirley Jackson lived something of a double-life.  She was a renowned, celebrated, and reviled author whose work was translated and published around the world, and whose books were adapted into critically acclaimed films, in the course of her short lifetime.  She was also a neighbor and a  home-maker, a mother, and lived almost as a shut-in in the final years of her life.  But a single glance at her headshot, posted above, convinces me that those two parts of her life were not disparate halves.  Her insight–into human nature, into her own numerous selves, and into the world around her (and us)–starts in the minutiae and the mundane details of the everyday, and spiral up and out from there, and her talent produced tales that still have the power to teach, tickle, and unnerve to this very day.

So this Halloween season, if you’re looking for some stories to make you shiver, I cannot recommend Shirley Jackson’s work more highly.

 

Summer Staff Selections!

We truly enjoyed our series featuring some of the Peabody Library Staff’s Summer Reading Selections–so much so that recommendations are still coming in!  So, while there are still a few days of summer left (officially), we thought we’d bring you another list of books personally recommended by our staff!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fifth round of Staff Selections:

From the Upstairs Offices:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah Maclean

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club…Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she’s vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she’s been missing.  But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.  If she’s not careful, she’ll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

From the West Branch:

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic conconctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.  One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic… This is a story that unfolds likes a modern-day fairy tale, immersing readers in the rich smells, tastes, and deep emotions of Hoffman’s incredible world, and unforgettable characters.

Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski

To his legions of fans, Charles Bukowski was—and remains—the quintessential counterculture icon. A hard-drinking wild man of literature and a stubborn outsider to the poetry world, he wrote unflinchingly about booze, work, and women, in raw, street-tough poems whose truth has struck a chord with generations of readers.  Edited by John Martin, the legendary publisher of Black Sparrow Press and a close friend of Bukowski’s, this book is a selection of the best works from Bukowski’s long poetic career, including the last of his never-before-collected poems. Celebrating the full range of the poet’s extra-ordinary and surprising sensibility, and his uncompromising linguistic brilliance, these poems cover a rich lifetime of experiences, and an astonishing poetic treasure trove.

From the Children’s Room:

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

In the summer of 1977, The Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster–another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboën Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids. In 1990, the former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask. And Andy, the once intrepid tomboy now wanted in two states, is tired of running from her demons. She needs answers. To find them she will need Kerri, the one-time kid genius and budding biologist, now drinking her ghosts away in New York with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their team leader . . . which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years. The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It’s their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world.

Happy Summer, Dear Readers!

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely upon us (definitely here this time around–it’s baking hot out there!), it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fifth round of Staff Selections:

From the Reference Desk:

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

Russian spies, government corruption, and collusion in the United States government?  It’s not CNN.  It’s Allen Drury’s seminal 1959 Cold War novel.  The intrigue swarms around the confirmation of prominent liberal political Robert Leffingwell to the position of Secretary of State…a man who is backed by the Communist Party.  Though the nomination is supposed to be a quick, sure-fire thing, several politicians have grave doubts about Leffingwell’s character, leading to a race-aginst-time investigation.  Advise and Consent was the first in a series that continues these themes of Cold War intrigue, and are sure to grip your attention!

From the Children’s Room

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

The Weetzie Bat books broke new ground with their stylized, lyrical prose and unflinching look at the inner life of teens.  This collection brings together the five luminous novels of the series, allowing readers to revel in the full saga of these interwoven and magic lives.  These postmodern fairy tales take us to a Los Angeles brimming with magical realism: a place where life is a mystery, pain can lead to poetry, strangers become intertwined souls, and everyone is searching for the most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love.  Block’s quirky, lush descriptions make this story into something utterly divine.

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

In this darkly fascinating book, Amy Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations, compiling an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother).  Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. This is a book that will enchant (and chill) nature lovers, scientists, and gardeners alike!

From the Upstairs Offices:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It’s the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and there is a lot of discussion swirling about her works, their meaning, and Austen’s place in the world of letters.  So why not take this opportunity to enjoy (or enjoy again) one of her most beloved novels–one of the most popular novels in English literature and the foundation of some of the most beloved tropes in romance?  This book is a favorite with a number of our staff, so let their combined wisdom be your guide!

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely (I think it’s fair to say definitely now, don’t you?)  upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fifth round of Staff Selections:

From the Circulation Desk:

The Meat Cake Bible by Dame Darcy

Dame Darcy is an artist of many and varied talents: musician, actress, fortune teller, dollmaker, Gen X/feminist icon, and last but not least, cartoonist to the core, delighting readers with her neo-Victorian horror/romance/humor comic Meat Cake.  This collection brings together her delightful (and occasionally gruesome) fairy tales and the Meat Cake comics, featuring Effluvia the Mermaid, the roguish roué Wax Wolf, Igpay the Pig-Latin pig, Stregapez (a women who speaks by dispensing Pez-like tablets through a bloody hole in her throat), the mischievous Siamese twins Hindrance and Perfidia, Scampi the Selfish Shellfish, the stalwart Friend the Girl, and the blonde bombshell Richard Dirt.  Take a peek inside this tiny little fun house and discover all the marvelous treats inside!  Voluminous, quirky, dense and delightful!

From the Reference Desk:

The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre

Since we were talking about this series earlier this week, it seemed like a good time to let you know that this book (and this series) are some of the most engrossing, bizarre, and twisty mysteries you can find.  I truly loved this eighth installment, in which we learn the true identity of a character whose had a major influence on this series–but this time, the hacker known as Buzzkill is facing blackmail, and is calling in every favor that Jack Parlabane owes in order to secure his help in a massive industrial espionage attempt.  And when they realize they have both been played and set up for murder, an attempted break-in becomes a manhunt that could cost Parlabane everything he has fought to recover–and could cost Buzzkill even more.

Tim’s Vermeer, a Penn & Teller film featuring Tim Jenison

Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did seventeenth century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning ten years, his adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, to the north coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and even to Buckingham Palace to see a Vermeer masterpiece in the collection of the Queen.  You can watch the trailer by clicking this link!

From the West Branch:

Off to be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. What could possibly go wrong? An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.  Fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One will find a lot to enjoy in this book, and the entire Magic 2.0 series!