Solano County Library Staff Picks



Counting by 7s (Audiobook)
Twelve-year-old Willow is obsessive about gardening, nature, medical conditions, and counting by sevens. Her rather odd genius makes her teachers uncomfortable. When she aces a test in record time, she is accused of cheating and is assigned to an unkempt and ineffectual school counselor. Then disaster strikes. Her adoptive parents, always a source of love and strength for Willow, are killed in a car wreck. She is suddenly left to make what she can of the people she has left: her counselor, some other misfit students assigned to him, and a Vietnamese family trying to stay together while dodging social services. This story explores love, loss, individuality, acceptance, the nature of family—and makes you smile. The narrator is exactly right as a whip-smart child who finds something interesting and good in everything.
Recommended by: Teri S. Want it? 




Self/Less (DVD)
If you are sick and wealthy, would you undergo a procedure to transfer your consciousness to a healthy and young body? If so, it's not that simple. The movie will thrill you, make you think and put in the pieces of the puzzle. It’s worth watching and I thought it had a good ending.
Recommended by: Loida M. Want it? 




The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
I know you can’t judge a book by its cover but it was the cover of this book that first drew me to it, with the little mouse running along with determination while holding a needle as if it was a sword. Between its covers is the story of that little mouse who loves a princess, a mistreated girl who would love to be a princess and a rat who lives in darkness but longs for light. These three eventually come together because of what they love and long for and because of the princess who is loved by the mouse. Along the way there is music, danger, a dungeon, tragedy, a spool of red thread, a kidnapping, and soup. The first time I read it, I read it all the way through in one sitting. It reminded me of an old-fashioned fairy tale, although it was published in 2003 and won the 2004 Newbery Award. Its themes of love and light and forgiveness endeared me to this book and it has become one of my favorite children’s books.
Recommended by: Dan R. Want it? 




Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Audiobook)
Its not often that I find a book that can be recommended to any and everybody. All of us are mortal, though medicine in the last century has changed why, how, and when we die. Gawande, a surgeon, takes a look at end-of-life care and how we make the decisions that we do, and explores how to communicate with our doctors and families so that we can make the end of our lives better ones. Great for all ages, from children through seniors (yes, my entire family from ages 9 to 90 read this and enjoyed it). Can a conversation really improve your quality of life? Read and find out.
Recommended by: Taaren S. Want it? 




Daughters Unto Devils
After an especially harsh winter on the mountain, pregnant teen Amanda and her family hope to leave behind the dark memories of their cabin fever and illness by moving to a new homestead out on the prairie. But upon arrival Amanda finds settling in on the remote grassland a grim challenge. There is an unnerving vibe to the area that plays on the chilling tales she has heard of murder, madness, and evil that haunt such places. Or could it be that the guilt and shame weighing on her from harboring the secret of her unplanned pregnancy are driving her mad? Like a wagon train heading west, this story gets off to a slow start, but the final chapters promise a terrifying conclusion worthy of a horror classic.
Recommended by: CS C. Want it? 




The Villa
Nora Roberts is already a bestselling author with numerous books containing interesting topics and themes. “The Villa” mainly caught my eye because it was set in Napa; it being so close to home helped me identify with the surroundings and allowed me to drown myself in the story. It has what every good book should have: suspense, romance and mystery. Surrounded by the Giambelli and McMillan vineyards you can’t help but fall in love with the families, the romances and the characters. The three Giambelli women are the most moving characters. Through both troublesome and happiness, they really inspire greatness and independence. I really enjoyed this book because of its story line and the ease it had in absorbing me into the mystery of it all. I will definitely continue reading this wonderful author’s books.
Recommended by: Laura M. Want it? 




The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
This is an eloquent and moving love story that spans the decades from 1950s to present day Burma. An American attorney tries to unveil the mystery behind her father's unexpected disappearance. A love letter, he wrote decades ago, leads the attorney to a remote village in Burma. There she uncovers her father's story. Our book club enjoyed this book which was part love story, fairy tale and mystery.
Recommended by: Melissa P. Want it? 




The Game of Love and Death
The Game of Love and Death was one of my favorite books of 2015. In this stunning YA novel, the first thing that grabs you is the atmosphere. On a stormy night, two of the main characters, Love and Death, mark the lives of two humans, making them players of a game that will span their lifetimes. Historical details of the late 1930’s are seamlessly woven in, but the style of the writing itself is what makes you feel submerged in the era. Each character is so well thought out and interesting, and I found myself completely invested in their hopes and struggles. Their story encompassed issues of race, privilege, sacrifice, and love in all its complicated forms. I didn’t want it to end, but the conclusion was beautiful and touching.
Recommended by: Becky V. Want it? 




Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Hoot Owl, our slightly egotistical but well spoken narrator, puts on various disguises in order to catch dinner. Perfect for parents, kids or anyone who likes poetically written picture books that feature humor and pizza.
Recommended by: Brenda W. Want it? 




The Pioneer Woman Cooks Dinnertime
What is better than a cookbook with pictures? How about a cookbook that shows you step-by-step pictures for each recipe? Ree Drummond, also known as the The Pioneer Woman, is excellent at choosing recipes for the masses. This cookbook provides simple and delicious dinner ideas that even beginning chefs can create. There are classic dishes, freezer food, and quick meals to help ease the burden of busy schedules.
Recommended by: Elyse H. Want it? 




Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers
Winchester offers a series of entertaining and well-researched chapters on various aspects of the Pacific region from coral reef health, to deep sea vents, to atomic testing in the 1950s, to an interesting chapter on the development of the transistor radio and its impact on consumer electronics.
Recommended by: Serena E. Want it? 




Salsa: Un Poema Para Cocinar
I love the culture Duncan Tonatiuh's illustrations represent, the whispers of indigenous South America spread across pages of color and text. Poetry depicting how molcajetes and salsa came to be; written in Spanish and English, readers glimpse culture and tradition along with rhyme and dance. I could see this being a great companion in any salsa or Spanish immersion lesson for children.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Kanye West: God and Monster
Kanye West is one of the most controversial figures in entertainment today. In his career he has called out the likes of Taylor Swift and even Tupac Shakur. Questionable as he may be, West is brilliant and this biography takes a look at the man who considers himself a god but society dubs a monster.
Recommended by: Mychal T. Want it? 




These Shallow Graves
These Shallow Graves is a historical fiction YA novel set in 1890s New York. The author does a wonderful job of putting the reader in high society with the main character Jo, who is a girl that is questioning her whole world. This novel is a little bit of romance entangled in the mystery of the truth behind Jo's father and his death. As the reader I felt as though I was a part of the investigation and couldn't help but cheer for Jo and the life she is seeking.
Recommended by: Elyse H. Want it? 




Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood
Ten essential play experiences are recommended for children to develop cognitive, physical, social, and creative literacy in this easy-to-read book for parents and educators.
Recommended by: Serena E. Want it? 




Personally, I loved the film 'District 9'. To this day it is one of my favorites to watch. 'Chappie' is made by the creator of 'District 9'. It tries for too much comedy at times, but it is sensational from a Science Fiction perspective and from those who enjoyed 'District 9'. For lovers of Sci-Fi, 'Chappie' should at least be given a chance. At the very least it is entertaining and thought-provoking.
Recommended by: Mychal T. Want it? 




The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio
The last novel of one of the greatest children's authors of all time (best known for the Black Cauldron series) doesn't quite live up to his best work (but then, few books do), but is still a wonderfully enjoyable adventure story, with Alexander's signature pacifist and anti-heroic philosophy.
Recommended by: Mark F. Want it? 




Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World
Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World by Leigh Ann Henion Prompted by the birth of her first child, Leigh Ann Henion embarks on a series of adventures meant to help define her place in this world as a mother, wife and adventurer. From incredible lightning storms in Venezuela to the butterfly migration in remote Mexico, Henion travels the globe in search of natural phenomena to reawaken her sense of wonder. I enjoyed the firsthand accounts of some truly incredible phenomena along with the author’s perspective of her journey and the world around her.
Recommended by: Kristen M. Want it? 




Two Boys Kissing
Based on the true story of two 17-year-old boys kissing for over 32 hours, setting a Guinness World Record, Levithan’s writing is powerful. Told in parallel experiences of other LGBTQ teens surrounding the live streamed event, the story is multifaceted, passionate and endearing. An amazing read but the audiobook, narrated by the author, is all raw poetic verse and emotion.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Slade House
Creepy, twisty, and philosophically complex, this is just what you expect from Mitchell - and at 240 pages, a perfect place to start for those unwilling to wade into the depths of Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks. I haven't read The Bone Clocks, which this is apparently a spin-off of, but it works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.
Recommended by: Mark F. Want it? 




Three kids, three different places in time and one harmonica come together in this fairytale of a story. From Hitler’s Germany to World War II California, the lives and times of these kids unfold. The single thread that runs through the stories is one very special, magical harmonica. Ryan weaves a story full of magic and history like only a master storyteller can. A wonderful new edition by one of my favorite authors.
Recommended by: Kristen M. Want it? 




This book made me smile all the way through. The illustrations are whimsical and it's just so much fun to say Moo over and over and over again.
Recommended by: Juli H. Want it? 




The Goldfinch
This book made a big splash--won a Pulitzer! While I don't think it's a great work of literature worthy of a Pulitzer (more of an entertainment for me), I did think it was engaging and well worth reading--especially if you're looking to get lost in a nice long juicy book that you don't want to put down. My main complaint: the plot developments at the climax of the book are right out of a hackneyed Hollywood action flick. Oh well, I still liked it over all.
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 




Open and Shut
Andy Carpenter – legal story – Andy takes his clients seriously, but his life and job with an offbeat sense of humor. Easy to be funny if you just inherited 22 million dollars from your retired ex-District Attorney Dad – money that your family never knew he had. But a posthumous request by his father, an old photograph with no explanation, an ex-wife and a man on death row who may or may not be innocent may all have a bearing on which road Andy’s life will take. There are several pieces that tie together the story to make this an interesting and somewhat lighthearted read. I am hooked on the series now.
Recommended by: Ellen P. Want it? 




Popular: a Memoir; Vintage Wisdom for the Modern Geek
This was a fun read and I came away inspired to step out of my comfort zone more often.
Recommended by: Juli H. Want it? 






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