Solano County Library Staff Picks



Dreams at the Threshold: Guidance, Comfort, and Healing at the End of Life
I recommend this for anyone who is interested in how dreams can help those who are dying, and their families and friends learn to listen with an open mind to be present at the end of life.
Recommended by: Laurie J. Want it? 




Assassination Vacation
“Someone” begins in the voice of a child growing up in Brooklyn after World War II and continues her story through old age. At times I felt nostalgic for New York and the decades in which I came of age, at others relieved at the ways society had changed. Heartbreak, love, tragedy, community – this novel had it all and I found myself rooting for Marie and the well-drawn cast of characters with whom she interacts through the years.
Recommended by: Sabine S. Want it? 




Assassination Vacation
Historian Sarah Vowell decides to take your typical all-American road trip... and visit places in the U.S. made famous (sometimes infamous) by political violence. Informative but never dull, the witty Vowell takes events that most Americans could only casually describe and paints a clearer picture, both of the events themselves, and of the people surrounding them.
Recommended by: Mike P. Want it? 




What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Did you ever want to hit a baseball that's traveling at 90% of the speed of light? How about construct a jetpack out of machine guns? Of course you have! (You've also always wanted to drain the ocean using only a one meter hole at the bottom, right?) Cartoonist and former NASA employee Randall Munroe compiles a list of the most bizarre questions he's been asked, and then proceeds to explain, in great detail, exactly how these--and other--scenarios would play out. You don't need to be an expert to enjoy these fascinating, funny, and often unexpected Q&As.
Recommended by: Mike P. Want it? 




Fall of Giants
In this book, the first of a trilogy, Ken Follett stays historical but moves up to the early 1900s, telling the interwoven stories of five different families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-all disrupted by World War I. I found this book not only a good story that kept me reading way into the night, but also a great way to look at history through the eyes of the common people most affected by the ravages of war, and how their lives intertwined across the globe. I'm now reading the 2nd book, and can't wait to move on to the third. A lot to read, but well worth it.
Recommended by: Racine C. Want it? 




The Glass Sentence
The Great Disruption has left different continents in different eras of time. Eight years after her explorer/cartologer parents disappeared, Sophia is living with her famous uncle Shadrack. While the government votes to shut out the rest of the world, Shadrack is kidnapped because of his special ability to read maps. With some assistance from pirates, Sophia must leave Boston to find him. This book is the first of a trilogy.
Recommended by: Tim M. Want it? 




Cinder (audiobook)
A fresh alternative to the classic Cinderella story. I was skeptical at first, being that Cinder's character was part cyborg, however, her character had very endearing and real human qualities. The story also takes place in a futuristic Beijing, which was a welcome diverse perspective. I was probably most entertained by how the problems in the story was more than just about the servant girl. I'm so hooked that it has me craving for more stories like it.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 




The Double Game
Former journalist and current PR man Bill Cage receives an anonymous tip that sends him across Europe following a slip of the tongue by his hero: spy-turned-novelist Edwin Lemaster. All of Fesperman’s novels stand alone, but this homage to the Spy Novel is a great launching pad for anyone interested in the genre. An appendix of 22 recommended spy novels is included.
Recommended by: Tim M. Want it? 




Wolf in White Van
Darnielle’s preposterously assured debut novel winds its plot around two tragic incidents. The first, copiously hinted at but not revealed till more than halfway through the novel, results directly in the permanent facial mutilation of the narrator, Sean, at age 17; and indirectly in Sean’s creation of a mail-order role playing game called Trace Italian, designed in part to help him escape from the real world. The second tragedy involves two teen players of Trace Italian taking the game too far into reality, leading to the death of one of the players. The ironic bookends of these two events might seem too programmatic if not for Darnielle’s deft handling of nonlinear storytelling. Sean’s narration is structured around free-associative flashbacks to before and after each tragedy, as well as meditations on Trace Italian, including snippets of gameplay—Sean’s game instructions and the moves of various players. The plot as such is fairly scanty, but the protagonist’s meditations on the events in his life vibrate with intensity and inner depth. And though Sean is an adult in the story’s present day, Darnielle’s psychologically complex portrayal of Sean’s childhood and adolescence, along with the intriguing glimpses at the game, should be more than enough to bring mature teens to this masterful novel.
Recommended by: Mark F. Want it? 




Last Tango in Halifax (DVD)
What happens when 70-something's, Alan and Celia, meet again after a 60 year separation and decide to marry? Hilarious fun! This British comedy series follows Alan and Celia and their respective families through affairs, proposals, and new family secrets. Gillian, Alan's adult daughter, is a hoot! If only she would think before she blurts out secrets. Hope you enjoy this fun series. We've also got Season 2 & 3!
Recommended by: Nancy W. Want it? 




The walk
The Walk is the first in an inspiring new series of books about Alan Christoffersen, an advertising executive who loses everything he loves. Desperate, he considers taking his own life, but instead he decides to embark on a walk across America - from Vacaville, California to Maine.
Recommended by: B.V. Want it? 




The nature of the beast
This is a great addition to the Inspector Gamache series, which I love. It is set in the idyllic fictional town of Three Pines, but it is far from a cozy mystery. The enemy threatens the world as we know it.
Recommended by: Lanora C. Want it? 




Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation
In 1944, when eight-year-old Sylvia Mendez registered for school, her only option was to attend a rundown school for Mexican children. Her family, despite being U.S. Citizens, were seen for her father’s job as a field-worker, for their brown skin and dark eyes. Sylvia challenged the school and advocated for equal rights for all children, regardless of skin color. A hand drawn and digitally colored picture book depicting the story of Sylvia creating the Parents’ Association of Mexican-American Children, and the 1945 case Mendez v. Westminster School District, known for launching the fight for desegregated schools in America. Readers see images of Sylvia’s childhood and of her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. A great read for young readers learning about and celebrating Hispanic Heritage.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




This is an intriguing mystery from a new British writer. The main character is a young man with Asperger's syndrome who is taking an anatomy course that involves the dissection of a cadaver. This young man has been obsessed with death and dead things since his father was killed. As the story progresses, he begins to realize things aren't as they appear. It's a unique approach to a crime novel and is a lot of fun to read!
Recommended by: Nancy R. Want it? 




Little brown bird is tired of going "peep". What if she sang "froodle" instead and inspired the rest of the birds to stop chirping, tweeting and cawing in favor of singing nonsensical songs? This is terribly fun and silly to read aloud.
Recommended by: Brenda W. Want it? 




Ip Man (DVD)
The Ip Man movie is very entertaining and historical. Ip man was a master of martial arts who came from a great family from China. He was a humble man and he demonstrated the real teachings of martial arts. He also fought for the oppressed when Japan invaded China. Ip Man was a hero of his country as he stood for his countrymen.
Recommended by: Loida M. Want it? 




If on a Winter's Night a Traveler
One of the most impressive (and enjoyable) books I've read this year, if not in many years.
Recommended by: Mark F. Want it? 




The Fall : a novel
I enjoyed reading this book as it has an exciting plot. The murder of an African-American teenager is under investigation and due to pressing matters, Greg Treadway becomes the suspect. Rebecca Hardy, a newbie lawyer has to prove Greg's innocence. Something always comes up as she and her team find evidence that will help the case. There are complications that make it really interesting. It is worth reading.
Recommended by: Loida M. Want it? 




The American lover : and other stories
The American Lover is a beautiful and entertaining read. Many of the stories vacillate between the 20th century post-war decades. The main thread of the stories are loss but each character maintains their dignity or even strengthens it through unwanted change and separation. One of the best stories is based on the Daphne Du Maurier's novel, Rebecca. Tremain gives Mrs. Danvers' story and her perspective on the novelist's process.
Recommended by: Heather C. Want it? 




Some Luck
The first book in a trilogy about the Langdons, an Iowa farm family. It feels like Little House on the Prairie for adults at first, but gets darker and more complex as the story continues. The first volume covers the period between 1920 and the '50s; the second and third books in the series follow the Langdons in later decades.
Recommended by: Lani C. Want it? 




Live at Birdland (Music CD)
The Coltrane Quartet's 1963 live recording of jazz classics like Coltrane's Alabama, an elegy for the slain schoolgirls in Birmingham, and Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaría's Afro Blue, showcase their artistry.
Recommended by: Serena E. Want it? 




The Barbarous Years: the peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675
Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize-winning scholar Bailyn offers an unsparing portrait of the poor management of early American settlements and its human toll for Europeans and Native Americans.
Recommended by: Serena E. Want it? 




The Truth According to Us: A Novel
Set in 1930s West Virginia, this book might be described as To Kill A Mocking Bird “Lite” – plenty of pathos, but in this story, it is not about race. Told mostly, but not exclusively, through the eyes of a young girl, Barrows evokes perfectly the sultry heat and quirky characters that are tolerated and celebrated in small southern towns.
Recommended by: Ann M. Want it? 




The Ice Queen: A Novel (audiobook)
It is a story that will remind you the worth of living, what it means to love, and why fairy tales are so important to us.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 




Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution
The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin…Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador Thomas Jefferson to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie's museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, even politics. Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.
Recommended by: B.V. Want it? 




The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.
Recommended by: B.V. Want it? 






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