Staff Pick – Laura Jean– GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey, DB 80678

The recent theatrical release of the movie The Girl With All the Gifts, featuring Glenn Close, brings to life the 2014 post-apocalyptic novel, GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (DB 80678). Nominated for multiple science fiction and horror awards, this story, set twenty years after the event known as The Breakdown, follows a group of survivors as they travel to military headquarters.

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Intricately plotted, with an atmospheric and creepy tone, this horror novel is written in a compelling manner that inextricably draws the reader into the dystopian landscape of post-apocalyptic England. The point of view shifts between characters, offering the reader a glimpse at the motivations behind their actions and a view into their inner turmoil.

NLS Annotation for GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M. R. Carey (DB 80678): A pandemic has turned countless people into zombies known as “hungries.” The administrators of a military camp studying these hungries must flee when a group of anarchists breach their security. They bring Melanie, a 10-year-old second-generation hungry with incredible strength and intellect, debating the status of her humanity all the while. Some violence and some strong language. Bestseller. Commercial audiobook. 2014.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy post-apocalyptic novels featuring zombies and young protagonists, you may try PASSAGE by Justin Cronin (DB 71422) or if you’d prefer a zombie horror novel that feels more like a political thriller with science fiction elements, try FEED by Mira Grant (DB 77374).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean – REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay, BR 20602, DB 78988

If you enjoy war stories with authentic characters that are written with a haunting and moving tone, try REDEPLOYMENT by former Marine captain and Iraq veteran, Phil Klay. He won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014 for this collection of short stories about the complex feelings experienced by soldiers in a war zone as well as the difficulties soldiers face when returning home.

Redeployment

Written in a compelling and candid manner, these stories pack an emotional punch. Whether it’s a story relating the problems a soldier encounters on returning to civilian life or another story describing the aftermath of an IED attack, Mr. Klay has a strong familiarity with the military language and mindset.

NLS Annotation: Twelve stories about soldiers at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the personal wars they fight reintegrating into society at home. In the title story, a soldier who had to shoot dogs on the battlefield must readjust to life in suburban America. Violence. 2014.

If you enjoy this book, but would prefer the stories told from the point of view of the women left at home, try YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE by Siobhan Fallon, DT 07103. Of if you’d prefer a non-fiction collection of war stories from former soldiers try THINGS THEY CANNOT SAY: STORIES SOLDIERS WON’T TELL YOU ABOUT WHAT THEY’VE SEEN, DONE, OR FAILED TO DO IN WAR edited by Kevin Sites, DB 76432.

G’Day, Mates: Read Your Way to Australia!

The Light Between Oceans (DB 751921) offers an intriguing snapshot of Australia.  The Land Down Under fascinates me.  The Kangaroos.  The Outback.  The Accent.  It’s a mysterious and exotic continent.

Despite this fascination, I have a love-hate relationship with Australia: I’d love to visit—but I’d hate to spend 22 hours on a plane getting there.  So, instead of flying to Australia, I “book it” and read my way there.

If you’d like to experience the people, places, and critters of Australia, save yourself a wicked case of jet lag.  Read your way to the Land Down Under!

ADULT FICTION

Broken Shore.  Temple, Peter.  DB 67414, LB 05305

Chain Lightning.  Lowell, Elizabeth.  DB 76573

Far Country.  Shute, Nevil.  BR 03046, DB 59136 (BARD ONLY), DX 59136

Just Kate.  Miller, Linda Lael.  DB 76540

Outlaw.  Dekker, Ted.  DB 77481

Secret River.  Grenville, Kate.  DB 64041 (BARD ONLY), DX 64041

Thorn Birds.  McCullough, Colleen.  BR 04284, DX 51148, LB 02198

True History Of The Kelly Gang.  Carey, Peter.  DB 53638 (BARD ONLY), DX 53638

Wilderness Trek.  Grey, Zane.  RC 64235, DB 10978 (BARD ONLY), DB 64235, DX 10978

ADULT NONFICTION

Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Creature.  Flannery, Tim.  DX 66755

Steve And Me.  Irwin, Terri.  DB 66251

Reef: A Passionate History.  McCalman, Iain.  DB 79477

JUVENILE FICTION

In Too Deep: The 39 Clues.  Watson, Jude.  (For grades 4-7 and older readers.)  DB 78503

Toad Rage.  Gleitzman, Morris.  (For grades 3-6.)  BR 18117, DB 67488

JUVENILE NONFICTION

How To Scratch A Wombat.  French, Jackie.  (For grades 3-6.)  DB 69072

Pocket Babies: And Other Amazing Marsupials.  Collard, Sneed B.  (For grades 4-7.)  DB 66148 (BARD ONLY), DX 66418

Stories From The Billabong.  Marshall, James Vance.  (For grades 3-6.)  DB 71773

Staff Pick – Megan – GUMPTION: RELIGHTING THE TORCH OF FREEDOM WITH AMERICA’S GUTSIEST TROUBLEMAKERS by Nick Offerman, DB 82061

If you enjoy verbose nonfiction offerings and naughty words, GUMPTION by comedian and author Nick Offerman should be on your to read list.  Offerman profiles 21 individuals, some contemporary and some historical. Much of these individuals’ accomplishments are attributed to “gumption”, which he defines as “willingness, even a hunger, for one’s mettle to be challenged.” Each profiled individual possesses traits of gumption: perseverance, discipline, curiosity, diligence, idealism, intelligence, fearlessness, valor, vision and courage. Each entry is well researched and tinted with humor.

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NLS annotation:

Comedian Nick Offerman profiles the lives of those Americans who have inspired him. He tells the stories of twenty-one individuals, from George Washington to Willie Nelson, and, using both serious history and humor, describes why they inspire him. Unrated.Commercial audio book. Bestseller. 2015.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy your history with a heavy side of sarcasm and spunk you might like Sarah Vowel’s UNFAMILIAR FISHES (DB 73201) or WORDY SHIPMATES (BR 17935, DB 67904)

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– DEATH OF A HEALING WOMAN: A TEXANA JONES MYSTERY by Allana Martin, DB 47921

Death of a Healing Woman by Allana Martin Cover

If you like contemporary mysteries with a western flavor such as the Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson or the Joe Pickett Series by C. J. Box, you might try the Texana Jones Mystery Series by Allana Martin, starting with DEATH OF A HEALING WOMAN (DB 47921). Winner of the 1996 Spur Award, this story, set in rural El Polvo, Texas, follows local resident Texana Jones as she investigates the murder of the local curandera, Rhea Fair.

Plot driven with a strong sense of place, this suspenseful mystery also hosts a cast of vividly memorable characters. The author, Allana Martin, lives in Marfa, Texas and her knowledge of the area reveals itself in her detailed descriptions of the people, culture and landscape of the border region.

NLS Annotation:

Texana Jones operates a trading post on the Mexican-American border. She is still mourning the death of two friends when she finds the body of a third, healer Rhea Fair. The authorities blame drug couriers. As Texana investigates, an outbreak of rabies spreads through the countryside. Spur Award Winner. Some violence. 1996.

If you’ve already read this book and enjoy a good mystery series with a female protagonist that takes place in rural setting, you may try the Anna Pigeon Series by Nevada Barr, starting with TRACK OF THE CAT (DB 65648) If you’d prefer a male lead, try the Sheriff Dan Rhodes Series by Bill Crider.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– THE SECRET CHORD by Geraldine Brooks, DB 82635

If you enjoy literary historical Biblical fiction that is realistic in nature, you may enjoy THE SECRET CHORD. Nominated for the 2016 Women’s Prize for Fiction as well making Booklist’s Best Historical Fiction for 2016 list, THE SECRET CHORD tells the story of the Old Testament warrior, King David, from the viewpoint of Natan, his prophet and advisor.

Cover of The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

Ms. Brooks, who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for MARCH (DB 64617), provides a vivid, richly detailed view of the land of Israel a millennium prior to the birth of Christ. Amid this setting, she places a variety of characters who each relate a part of David’s life.

NLS Annotation: King David rules Israel during the Second Iron Age. As he moves from a lowly shepherd to the leader of the Israelites, the lives of those he impacts, including the prophet Natan, his wives, and his son Solomon, reflect back on him. Violence, strong language, and descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2015.

For a non-fiction look at the life of King David try KING DAVID: THE REAL LIFE OF THE MAN WHO RULED ISRAEL by Jonathan Kirsch DB 56945. Or if you’d enjoy another historical fictional account of this legendary man, try the Children of the Lion series by Peter Danielson. The eighteenth and nineteenth books in the series, THE SHINING KING DB 51108 and TRIUMPH OF THE LION DB 51109, both deal specifically with the life of King David.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware, DB 82625

If you enjoy psychologically suspenseful novels such as GONE GIRL or GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you may enjoy Ruth Ware’s début novel IN A DARK, DARK WOOD (Digital: DB   82625, Large print: LB   08245, Braille: BR 21161). Set in the contemporary English countryside, this book tells the story of Leonora Shaw, who attends the bachelorette party of a high school friend.

Cover of In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Fast-paced with a menacing tone, Ms. Ware’s compelling writing kept me on the edge of my seat as I navigated the intricate plot twists. As the story progresses, Leonora proves to be an unreliable narrator, and secrets from her past influence events during the course of the weekend.

NLS Annotation: Twenty-six-year-old British crime-fiction writer Leonora Shaw is shocked to be invited to her long-estranged friend’s hen party. Soon after their arrival at the remote glass house in the woods, it becomes obvious that someone besides the invitees is on the property. Then Leonora awakens in the hospital. Strong language and some violence. 2015.

For another psychological suspenseful mystery featuring an unreliable female protagonist, try WIDOW by Fiona Barton DB 83700. Or try one of the classics in this genre, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie DB 11077.  This book was specifically mentioned during the course of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD and Ms. Ware counts it as one of the influences of her work.

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemisin, DB 82240

Winner of the 2016 Hugo Award, FIFTH SEASON tells the story of how the world ends – for the last time. Told from three different viewpoints, N. K. Jemisin weaves a story of survival against the backdrop of the Stillness, a world constantly threatened by catastrophic geologic upheaval.

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Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominated author, N. K. Jemisin, describes the plight of the orogenes, a feared section of the population, who have the ability to control the geologic energy held within the Earth. Written in a compelling manner with a gritty tone, she deftly describes the events leading up to the beginning of the Fifth Season, a time of catastrophic climate change.

NLS Annotation for FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemisin (DB 82240): Essun is a woman living in a world ruled by the violent tectonic activity it experiences. She comes home to find her husband has killed her son and kidnapped her daughter, all for the secret ability Essun and her children have to control the Earth. Strong language, some explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. 2015.

If you have already read this book or enjoy fantasy fiction with apocalyptic overtones, try WHO FEARS DEATH by Nnedi Okoafor (DB 73989). Or if you’d like to try something similar with more of a science fiction feel, try the Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggott starting with PURE (DB 78234).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– GIRL IN THE DARK by Anna Lyndsey, DB 81009

Written in a lyrical and literary manner, GIRL IN THE DARK describes the life of the author, Anna Lyndsey, as she struggles with the onset of an illness that causes an intense sensitivity to light. Each section of the book deals with an aspect of her life; whether it is the months leading up to the beginning of her condition, an event that occurs during the course of her seclusion, her conversations with friends and acquaintances, or the ways she passes the time while isolated in her protective dark room. The author describes her life with honesty and humor.

NLS Annotation for GIRL IN THE DARK by Anna Lyndsey (DB 81009): A young woman writes of a light sensitivity that has forced her to live in darkness. She describes how the first symptom–her face burning from the computer screen–progressed to her entire body’s intolerance of fluorescent light and sunlight. Audiobooks, word games, occasional relative remissions, and the man she loves make it bearable. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2015.

If you have already read this book or enjoy memoirs written by people battling chronic illness, try BRAIN ON FIRE: MY MONTH OF MADNESS by Susannah Cahalan (DB 76074).

Staff Pick – Laura Jean– ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes, DB 76161

The impending theatrical release of the movie Me Before You, featuring Emilia Clarke, brings to life the 2012 New York Times Bestseller, ME BEFORE YOU. Two time winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, Jojo Moyes, tells the story of caregiver Lou Clark and her friendship with her charge, Will Traynor.

Character driven, issue oriented with a romantic yet thought-provoking tone, ME BEFORE YOU made me laugh out loud at some of the humorous and snarky comments made by both Lou and Will, yet it also made me contemplate what it is to be almost entirely dependent on others and the heaviness of the responsibility of caring for one who is.

NLS Annotation for ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes (DB 76161, BR 19900): Working-class English girl Louisa “Lou” Clark is hired as an aide to wealthy Will Traynor, a former mogul who has been paralyzed since a road accident. Lou tries to keep the embittered Will engaged with the world, while Will encourages Lou to expand her horizons. Some strong language. Bestseller. 2012.

ME BEFORE YOU is followed by a sequel, so be sure to ask your friendly neighborhood reader consultant about it!

If you have already read this book or enjoy books that deal with the relationship between caregiver and charge, try REVISED FUNDAMENTALS OF CAREGIVING by Jonathan Evison (DB 75360, BR 19596).