Staff Pick – Laura Jean– WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel, DB 70074

The recent adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (Digital: DB 70074, Large print: LB 07612) for the screen and stage has brought renewed interested in this 2009 Man Booker Prize winning novel. Wolf Hall relates the story of Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn and the religious and political repercussions that ensued. The author adds a unique twist by telling this tale through the viewpoint of Henry’s advisor, Thomas Cromwell. Richly detailed, slow-paced, and character driven, Wolf Hall truly immerses the reader in the world of the sixteenth century English court.

NLS Annotation: Thomas Cromwell, a closet Protestant and blacksmith’s son who becomes advisor to Henry VIII of England, realizes that he can accumulate power and wealth by assisting the king in obtaining an annulment and simultaneously help commoners and his country by destroying the corrupt Catholic clergy. Booker Prize. Bestseller.  2009.

Wolf Hall is the first book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. It is followed by Bring Up the Bodies (DB 74880) and will conclude with The Mirror and the Light, which is currently scheduled to be published later this year.

For an another fictional view of Anne Boleyn’s rise and fall, through the eyes of her sister Mary, try The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (DB 58873). To read Anne’s story from her own perspective, try Lady in the Tower,  the fourth book in the Queens of England series by Jean Plaidy (Digital cartridge: DX 32305; BARD: DB 32305).

Staff Pick – Laura – OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, DB 36535

With the television adaptation premiering this month, the OUTLANDER book series by Diana Gabaldon is experiencing a resurgence of popularity.  If you enjoy historical novels that vividly describe the time and place of their setting with a fiery love story and a slight fantastical twist, you will undoubtedly enjoy this series.  Start with OUTLANDER (DB 36535).

NLS Annotation for OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon (DB 36535):  It is 1945. Frank and Claire Randall are on a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands, where Claire is studying rare plants and Frank is researching family origins. One day Claire steps into an ancient stone circle and is hurled back in time to 1743. She is nearly raped by one of Frank’s ancestors before being rescued and forced into marriage. Violence, strong language, and explicit descriptions of sex. Prequel to Dragonfly in Amber (DB 36536).

Have you read the entire OUTLANDER series?  Try THE RIVER OF NO RETURN by Bee Ridgeway (DB 76677) for another exciting, time-traveling historical-romance.

Staff Pick – Laura – ORYX AND CRAKE by Margaret Atwood, DB 56234

Snowman, once known as Jimmy, struggles to survive as the last human in a world destroyed by a bio-engineered plague. Starving and sometimes drunk, he is tormented by flashes of memory of his best friend, Crake, his love, Oryx, and the events that led up to the destruction of humankind. Surrounded by a new race, the Crakers, and genetically engineered animals now running free in the wild, Snowman struggles to remember. He decides to journey back to where the end began. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader glimpses a society obsessed with scientific advancement for profit where dissenters are silenced by mega-corporations. As Snowman travels closer to the compound, he moves closer to the truth of what happened. This is an unsettling, darkly humorous, and engrossing read.

ORYX AND CRAKE is the first book in Margaret Atwood’s MADDADAM TRILOGY.  It is followed by THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD (DB 69893) and concludes with MADDADAM (DB 77487)

NLS ANNOTATION: In the near future, a lone human amidst genetically engineered creatures torments himself with memories of the devastation of the natural world. Calling himself “Snowman,” he recalls the role of his best friend Crake and mourns the loss of their mutually beloved Oryx.  Some descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2003.  DB 56234

Staff Picks – Laura – THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE, DB 76169

A lot has been published in the last ten years on the American diet and our relationship with food.  Some of the books focus on how factory farming and industrialized agriculture have changed our health and culture as a nation.  Some speak to the environmental impact of our modern food systems.  Many question the morality of participating in these systems and present alternatives like eating a vegetarian diet or only eating locally grown, organic food.  THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE is a personal account of one man who considers these questions and struggles to find a responsible solution.  Author Tovar Cerulli shares his transition from an omnivorous child, to staunch vegan, and finally to a compassionate hunter and meat eater.   If you like slowly-unfolding personal narratives and examining the relationship between humans and their food, you might enjoy this book.


Author chronicles his dietary journey from his childhood as an omnivore and avid fisherman, to early adulthood as a strict vegan, and later a more thoughtful carnivore. Explores the history of vegetarianism in American culture, and ways his personal relationships affected his thoughts on the acquisition of food. 2012. DB 76169

If you enjoyed THE MINDFUL CARNIVORE, you might also like the author Michael Pollan.  Start with THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS – DB 62557



Staff Picks – Laura – LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS, DB 76599

LET’S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS is a collection of amusing essays that focus on David Sedaris’ experiences living abroad, his dysfunctional family, and a smattering of other topics told in his distinctive voice.  If you enjoy witty, self deprecating humor that can pack an emotional punch, this collection might be for you.   THE HAPPY PLACE, which recounted Sedaris’ first experience getting a colonoscopy, had me laughing so hard I cried.

NLS Annotation:


Twenty-six essays by the humorist. “Dentists without Borders” describes the nonchalance of his doctor, dentist, and periodontist in France. In “Understanding Understanding Owls” Sedaris shops for a stuffed owl for his boyfriend and is disconcerted by how accurately the taxidermist sizes him up. Some strong language. Commercial Audiobook. 2013.

DB   76599

Staff Picks – Laura – OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, DB 77198

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE begins as a man returns to his childhood home for a funeral.  As he explores his old neighborhood he is inexplicably pulled towards the farm of his childhood friend Lettie.  There he finds her family still living, unchanged despite the years.  As he sits by their pond, memories of the terrifying events of his childhood unfold.  Through the eyes of his seven year old self, we learn how the boy befriended Lettie, who, though she was 11, had been so for a very, very long time, and how they together encountered a malevolent presence from another world that used him as a conduit to cross into ours.  When he and Lettie confronted the presence to send it back, tragedy occurred.  This haunting and affecting story deftly portrays the loneliness of childhood and how tragedy can follow you your entire life, floating right below the surface of memory.

NLS Annotation:


Sussex, England. A man returns to his childhood home for a funeral.  While there, he is drawn to the farm where his friend Lettiee lived with her mother and grandmother. After he enters the property, he remembers the terrifying experiences he and Lettiee shared. Some violence. Bestseller. 2013.  DB   77198; BR   20187

Staff Picks – Laura – Doll Bones, DB 76559

Doll Bones by Holly Black is middle-grade fiction that seems to defy classification.  It is many genres all rolled into one book!  It is a friendship tale, a coming of age story, an adventure, a bit of a mystery, and a dash of a ghost story too.  These elements mesh together to create an engaging tale of three friends on the edge of adolescence (with all its complications and confusions) who band together on a quest to bring peace to an uneasy spirit inhabiting a china doll.  The characters are realistic, the adventure is exciting, and the atmosphere is eerie and creepy without crossing over into the land of nightmares.

NLS annotation: Preteens Zach, Alice, and Poppy act out adventures with action figures and a china doll long after their classmates have stopped such play.  But when Poppy is haunted by dreams about the eerie doll, the friends begin a real-life exploit. For grades 5-8 and older readers.  2013.  DB 76559.

Can’t get enough of creepy dolls?  Try Coraline by Neil Gaiman.  DB   54845  DLD

Staff Pick – Saidah

‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes.

Man Booker Prize, Bestseller.  2011

DB   73935     LB   07051

If you like gossip about other people’s love lives, you will like this book. You will even like it when your naughty predilection comes back to bite you in the butt at the end of the story.

Retired Tony Webster realizes his life is not what he thought after receiving a puzzling inheritance and a journal left behind by Adrian, a friend who committed suicide four decades ago. His entire life Tony has held a petty grudge against his first girlfriend Veronica and her relationship with Adrian. Reading the journal changes Tony’s perspective of what happened between the three of them. It leads him to discover unexpected and harsh consequences, and his own responsibility in bringing them about.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s short but powerful.  It does a great job of getting under the skin of the characters and weaving their emotional life into a larger picture, where the reader can link long forgotten causes to indelible results. Publisher’s Weekly says “From the haunting images of its first pages to the surprising and wrenching finale, the novel carries readers with sensitivity and wisdom through the agony of lost time.”

Other books by Julian Barnes:

ARTHUR AND GEORGE (2006)          DB 61635 DLD, RC   61635

NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF (2008)      DB   68481

LOVE, ETC. (2000)                RC   53948

ENGLAND, ENGLAND (1999)               RC   49553

PORCUPINE (1992)                RC   38098

TALKING IT OVER (1991)                RC   34498