Spot-Lit for December 2016

Spot-Lit

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Remember to check back monthly: Many of the titles we feature here each month end up in major media lists of best books of the year, alongside lesser-touted gems you won’t want to miss. You can see all of this year’s Spot-Lit titles here.

Notable New Fiction 2016 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction.

Best of 2016: Adult Fiction & Graphic Novels

Another year is coming to a close and here at the library that means just one thing: the annual staff favorites list! Our dedicated staff have picked their favorite books, music and film of 2016 and presented it to you in a handy list, tailor made for getting great gift ideas this holiday season. Here at the blog, we will be publishing a different part of the list Monday through Friday this week so you can see it in all its glory. For a full listing, definitely check out the Library Newsletter.

Today we bring you the staff picks for Adult Fiction and Graphic Novels. Enjoy!

Adult Fiction

afgn1

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
Josie is on the run with her children. She’s left her husband, her failing dental practice, and the rest of her Ohio town to explore Alaska in a rickety RV.

With his trademark insight, humor, and pathos, Dave Eggers explores this woman’s truly heroic adventure, all the while exploring the concept of heroism in general. Brilliant, unpretentious, and highly readable. -Alan’s pick

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream job. But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard.

Brit Ruth Ware has crafted her second gripping, dark thriller in the Christie tradition. This page-turner toys with the classic plot of “the woman no one would believe” with incredible language and fun twists. Also a terrific, unabridged audiobook. -Alan’s pick

They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
When Joy Bergman’s husband dies, her children are shocked that she doesn’t agree with their ideas for her. The book’s title is from a Philip Larkin poem, and this funny and compassionate look at the Bergman family brings Larkin’s poem to life.

Schine captures the reality of aging, as well as how difficult it is for families to communicate–even when they love each other. -Eileen’s pick

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Spanning hundreds of years, this ambitious work tells the often brutal story of the Canadian and New England lumber industry and all those whom it enriched or displaced.

Annie Proulx’s writing never ceases to thrill me. The weaving together of the stories of multiple characters and the reader’s gradual realization of the impact one person’s fate can have on future generations is simply amazing. -Elizabeth’s pick

afgn2

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
Very hard to describe, Pond is made up of connected short stories: musings on both the beauty and the hassles of everyday things, the tiresomeness of town life and the meddling of neighbors, laziness, broken things, and the gorgeousness of fruit.

Why is this so good? It’s just beautifully written and I couldn’t put it down. I felt like I was completely in the narrator’s mind, and her observations on life, nature, never failed to keep me entertained. -Elizabeth’s pick

An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
After a 300-year slumber, vampire Yuric Bile wakes to a world where the modern undead are beautiful, young and hiding in plain sight on TV shows. With help from two humans, he decides to track down and show the glamorous undead how a real monster behaves.

Mingling darkness and humor, this debut fantasy fiction is original, mighty in its depiction of cultural differences, and mostly very funny. -Joyce’s pick

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
Growing up on the Puget Sound, the Johannssen family has sailing in their blood, but the oldest brother, Josh, is left puzzling over what caused his siblings to flee, one to Africa, the other to points unknown as a fugitive and pirate.

If you love the Puget Sound or sailing, you’ll love Lynch’s latest novel. -Leslie’s pick

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
Set during WWII, we have the stories of three very different women in separate locations being told simultaneously.

The characters were very endearing. -Linda’s pick

afgn3

What was Mine by Helen Klein Ross
One lie leads to another until 20 years later when the truth comes out and carefully guarded secrets are unraveled. In one impulsive moment multiple lives become altered. When shock and tragedy strike people manage to move on with their lives others choose to live in the lie all of which takes a toll.

An intriguing read and expose of the human psyche. -Margo’s pick

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy doesn’t come from much; growing up poor has left scars and caused division. Lucy is lonely and vulnerable, missing her family, confined to the hospital for nine weeks, and then her mother unexpectedly shows up.

The genuineness with which Strout writes is familiar and comforting. I find myself coming to care deeply for her characters. The past catches up with the present in this tender heartfelt story of life and death, pain and sorrow. -Margo’s pick

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
This book is set against the backdrop of the 1999 World Trade Organization protests in Seattle. Sunil Yapa invokes empathy and consideration for all sides involved.

Yapa’s plot builds substantially, as the violence in the protests escalates, and his characters’ flaws are revealed with superb timing. -Sarah’s pick

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
A fellow slave encourages Cora to run away, and they head north on a functional underground railroad, complete with tracks and cars.

Whitehead details the terrors of slavery and recounts this brutal piece of American history. -Sarah’s pick

An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao
In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan. This collection of stories examines how this political decision forces a mass migration of humanity and how little control a person may have over his/her own destiny.

Months after finishing this collection of short stories, I found myself thinking about the characters and how they managed to survive and adapt to their new circumstances. The characters are well developed and often connected from story to story. -Teri’s pick

Adult Graphic Novels

afgn4

Faith 01: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser
When she’s not typing up listicles about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels’ own leading superhero– the sky-soaring Zephyr.

A superhero comic series for people who hate superhero comics, Faith is a body-positive series where size is never mentioned, but we can see our large heroine wear normal clothes and live a life free of fat-shaming. And she kicks-butt! -Carol’s pick

Adulthood is a Myth: a “Sarah Scribbles” Collection by Sarah Andersen
Confronts head-on the horrors, anxiety, and awkwardness of modern adult life.

I hadn’t heard of Sarah Andersen until I cataloged this book. Now I can’t stop reading everything she’s ever written. Her comics are highly relatable to any millennial, woman, or person in the world. It’s also a fast read. -Carol’s pick

Hip Hop Family Tree Volume 4 by Ed Piskor
Piskor continues his work telling the “origin stories” of hip hop’s most important artists and of the genre itself. This book covers 1984-1985 and has a large focus on the Def Jam record label.

The large format, rough paper, and muted colors make reading about 80s hip hop feel closer than the 30 years that separate it from the present. Every book in this series is worth a read, yet each stands on its own equally well. -Zac’s pick

Faster than Light by Brian Haberlin
Human beings have finally discovered how to travel faster than the speed of light. This book, with the help of an iOS/Android companion app, tells the story of the first crew to venture deep into our universe.

Unlike what you might see on Star Trek, the technology in this sci-fi title feels a little clunky, which adds a layer of suspense to the storytelling. -Zac’s pick

afgn5

Dark Night: a True Batman Story by Paul Dini
Author Paul Dini tells his personal story of physical and psychological recovery after being seriously beaten while walking home.

I grew up watching the animated Batman cartoons that Dini created in the 90s. It’s fascinating to see how those fictional characters became very real players in the author’s personal struggles. -Zac’s pick

Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
This manga centers around Onodera Punpun (drawn as a mostly formless bird to project a neutral character) as he grows up in a very dysfunctional family.

There’s much complexity in Punpun’s family situation, and this manga does not hesitate to show the darker side of life and dabble in very serious topics. It is at once a heavy and delightful read. -Zac’s pick

We Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughan
In a dystopian future, Canada has been attacked by its aggressive neighbors to the south. One group of Canadian citizens dares to defy the American invaders.

The book’s premise drew me in, and it works really well in this short, one-volume format. Overall, it was the gritty art style (a little reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Robocop) that kept me fully engaged to the end. -Zac’s pick

Titles of Intrigue

Here at the library, we really appreciate a good book title. Whether we are selecting, shelving, weeding or checking them out, we deal with a lot of library items throughout our careers. When you come across a title that you find intriguing, it is hard not to have admiration for its ability to stand out in a very large crowd. This is especially true when it comes to ordering books. While selecting, I scan many lists of books from several sources and have to admit that sometimes it is hard to keep my eyes from glazing over while trying to determine if titles like Algebra I for Dummies are a good fit for the collection.

But thankfully there are exceptions. Here are a number of new and on-order books with titles that might pique your interest as they have mine. While I can’t guarantee they will deliver on the promise of their intriguing titles, they are definitely worth a look. I’ve also taken a page from our Spot-Lit posts and have presented the covers in a slideshow so you can enjoy the titles in all their glory. Simply click on a book cover to view the show. Enjoy!

Unmentionable: the Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben

The Sick Bag Song by Nick Cave

Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif

The Aliens Are Coming!: The Extraordinary Science Behind Our Search for Life in the Universe by Ben Miller

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar: Evolutions Most Unbelievable Solutions to Life’s Biggest Problems by Matt Simon

Void: The Strange Physics of Nothing by James Weatherall

The Thieves of Threadneedle Street: the Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England by Nicholas Booth

Star Wars Propaganda : A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy by Pablo Hidalgo

Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker

Not Dead Yet: the Memoir by Phil Collins

Murder & Mayhem in Seattle by Teresa Nordheim

Grizzlyshark by Ryan Ottley

Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine: the Curious Stories of 43 Amazing North American Native Plants by Tammi Hartung

Beethoven’s Skull: Dark, Strange, and Fascinating Tales from the World of Classical Music and Beyond by Tim Rayborn

 

Spot-Lit for November 2016

Spot-Lit

These titles – from established, new, and emerging authors – are some of the most anticipated new releases of the month, based on advance reviews and book world enthusiasm.

Click here to see all of these titles in the Everett Public Library catalog, where you can read reviews or summaries and place holds. Or click on a book cover below to enlarge it, or to view the covers as a slide show.

Notable New Fiction 2016 (to date) | All On-Order Fiction.

Crazy Fall Publishing: Picture Book Edition

index

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve read about five hundred books this year! You may ask, “How is that possible?” Well, I purchase the picture books for the Everett Public Library and I read each and every one that comes into the library. Some I read quickly at my desk, but I check out about half of them and take them home to try on my two little guinea pigs, er, I mean, granddaughters. Quite a few have become instant favorites and are now part of our family life. Let me share the sweetest ones with you here.

The book pictured above is a real beauty complete with rhyming words, lovely art work, and awesome pull out pages called gate folds which actually frighten this librarian because they are fragile and will probably rip easily. “Leaves on trees are green and bright. Abracadabra! What a sight!” This is a celebration of the fall season similar to the very successful Abracadabra! It’s Spring! which was published, you guessed it, last spring.

There are a few new Halloween books which merit a reading. The Rules of the House isn’t really a Halloween book, but it sure is on the scary side as far as picture books go. It has already become part of our shared literary experience at home as we remind ourselves of the ‘rules of the house’: no pinching, no fibbing, and always rescue your sister. Birdie’s Happiest Halloween has a good ‘can’t decide my costume’ story and a great ending. Grimelda the Messy Witch is funny and leads to a good discussion about cleaning up your messes. A Teeny Tiny Halloween is just a fun read about a tiny woman who tries to get help when leaves bury her house.

indexindex-1index-2index-3

We love Mo Willems and were sad when the very last Elephant and Piggy book, The Thank You Book, was published this year. I read it to all of the schools I visited to talk up our Summer Reading Program. Everyone loved it! But, have no fear, now Willems is working on a new series called Elephant and Piggy Love Reading. We Are Growing and The Cookie Fiasco are hilarious! Just perfect for children learning to read. Nanette’s Baguette is a rhyming masterpiece: “It’s Nanette’s first trip to get the baguette! Is she set? You bet!”

index-4index-5index-6index-7

I refer to Please Say Please every single day when my little granddaughters want anything: “Please say please!” It is a very useful book. The Magic Word by Barnett is a hilarious take on what a magic word really is. Are Pirates Polite? by Demas shows that even pirates can say please and thank you. Read this if you want to stress good behavior and still have fun.

index-9 index-10index-11

Being polite is important, but it’s really important to Be Who You Are!  Author Todd Parr encourages kids to embrace themselves because they are special. Ada Twist, Scientist  is constantly wondering about and questioning the world around her. Who? What? Why? Where? When? Her sense of wonder is infectious. Thunder Boy, Jr. is by Sherman Alexie and is about a boy who wants a name of his own. The beautiful illustrations by Yuyi Morales celebrate this father-son relationship.

index-12index-13index-14

Everyday Birds introduces kids to 20 types of North American birds through a gentle rhyme. At the back of the book there is information on each bird, should the reader be curious to learn more. Bright, bold, and colorful illustrations will draw a child’s eye. Hungry Bird is just as delightful and hilarious as the first two books in Tankard’s BIRD series. The animal characters experience negative emotions and they work through those feelings with care, heart and laughs. Hooray for Today is great for learning about nocturnal animals or for a bedtime story. Owl has a wagon filled with books, music, party things, and wants someone to play. Everyone he tries to wake up is too sleepy, until night is over and they are ready to get up, but now HE is the sleepy one.

index-16index-17index-18

They All Saw a Cat is a good one. In simple, rhythmic prose and stylized pictures, a cat walks through the world, and all the other creatures see the cat differently. It illustrates perspective for children.  I Hear a Pickle: (and Smell, See, Touch and Taste It Too!) is Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora’s introduction to the five senses and is perfect for the youngest children, who will recognize themselves in charming vignettes that portray a wide range of activities. Before Morning is simply beautiful and definitely a Caldecott contender. Take time to ‘read’ the illustrations as they add so much to the overall story. A little girl wishes for a snow day – – a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together.

index-19index-20index-21

I would like to encourage you to take these picture books home from the library and spend an unhurried day with your favorite child. Who knows? You may end up reading more books than me!

Labor and Lumber

logo

To help commemorate the centennial of the Everett Massacre, we’ve pulled together this list of historical fiction titles. Only Sawdust Empire, by J.D. Howard, deals directly with the bloody events on Everett’s waterfront 100 years ago, but all of these books look at the timber industry and laborers from the 1890s to the present day (with many of them emphasizing the labor struggles of the 1930s).

Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion, about an Oregon logging family that continues to work through a bitter strike, is the best-known of these Northwest labor novels. But it’s good to see the recent reprinting of Robert Cantwell’s long out-of-print, Aberdeen-set novel, The Land of Plenty (originally published in 1935). For a mid-century style and take see Roderick Haig-Brown’s 1942 book, Timber, with its detailed accounts of logging work, and his 1949 title On the Highest Hill. Cormac McCarthy fans ought to appreciate Brian Hart’s gritty 2014 novel, Bully of Order about the extremely rough and lawless world of a Northwest coast logging town in the 1890s.

If you like a bit of mystery with your historical fiction, take a look at the award-winning Timber Beasts or Black Drop by S.L. Stoner, or The Big Both Ways by John Straley.

Click here to see a list of all of these titles in the library catalog and to place holds. Or click on a book jacket below to enlarge it or to view the covers as a slide show.

For additional fiction focusing on the laboring life, take a look at the titles in this list.

Mind Your Ps & Qs

Is there a little bit of a grumpy old man or woman in you? You know the type. A person prone to saying things like: “In my day we were polite”, “Does no one know how to write a sentence anymore?”, “I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids” (o.k. that one is from Scooby Doo, but you get the idea). If your inner grumpy person thinks things like proper etiquette, good grammar and an appreciation for an obscure typeface are a thing of the past, you are in for a surprise. There are actually a large number of new(ish) books that advocate for an appreciation of just these things. Clearly ‘kids today’ are going retro, with a new twist on things, of course. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at these tomes, all available at EPL.

You could be forgiven for thinking that concern about how to ‘act properly’ was reserved for state dinners, debutante dances and the filming of Downton Abbey. Etiquette, however, is making a surprising comeback with new takes on old manners.

pq1

Emily Post’s Etiquette: Manners for a New World
This classic etiquette tome has been adapted for the modern age with advice on texting, tweeting, whether to cover up your tattoo for an interview, and advice on the ever elusive work dress code. If you find yourself walking down the aisle, there is also a new edition of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette to shield you from making a dreaded faux pas.

Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck by Amy Alkon
Realizing that worrying about which fork to use is not high on many people’s priority list, the author instead addresses many of the conundrums that we currently face: When do you actually phone someone instead of texting or emailing? How do you tactfully tell the person in line to put their cellphone off speaker? And of course, when to friend and unfriend on Facebook.

Works Well with Others by Ross McCammon
This is a guide to successfully navigating workplace etiquette from a unique perspective: Those who feel ill at ease in the workplace to begin with. Drawing on his own experiences, the author gives helpful guidance on key work etiquette issues such as proper eye contact, when to interrupt and how to make successful small talk.

The idea of standard proper grammar is definitely alive and well and if you simply want to correct people, we have several traditional guides that will give you all the ammunition you need. If you want to delve a little deeper though, take a look at these more forgiving takes on grammar and its purpose.

pq2

You’re Saying it Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse by Ross & Kathryn Petras
From ‘buck naked’ to ‘Uranus’ the authors not only let you know the correct pronunciation of each word or phrase, but they also give a fascinating backstory and context to its use. In addition, there are several funny and useful chapters on faking it like “How to Sound Philosophical” and “How to Sound Like a Fashionista” that can always come in handy.

Accidence Will Happen: A Recovering Pendant’s Guide to English Language and Style by Oliver Kamm
Once a grammar purist, the author persuasively argues that English is a language largely learned by instinct, ever-changing, and not confined to a set of absolutist rules. He cleverly proves his point in the second half of the book with an A to Z guide of ‘Usage Conundrums.’

Founding Grammars: How Early America’s War Over Words Shaped Today’s Language by Rosemarie Ostler
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of why we speak as we do in the United States, then this is the book for you. From the revolutionary war to the present, the author chronicles the constant tension between ‘proper’ and ‘common’ English usage in the United States and how that usage is used to define individuals and groups.

Now that you know how to behave and speak properly, it is time to consider the letters you use to express yourself. While it might be surprising to some, there are actually a dedicated number of aficionados who enjoy exploring different typographies. Here at the library we have the books to please them.

pq3

The Evolution of Type by Tony Seddon
Type historian, yes there is such a thing, Seddon examines 100 significant typefaces from Gutenberg all the way up to the latest digital typefaces. Each typeface gets a detailed history including its origins and the new features it introduced. Lots of helpful illustrations and definitions are included to encourage those new to the subject.

Typography: the Annual of the Type Directors Club
Jam packed with examples from books, magazines, logos, posters, web graphics and pretty much anything that is written on, this book presents the winning designs from the Type Directors Club annual competition which seeks out the best graphic design work in a given year. Even if graphic design and typography isn’t your thing, this is a beautiful book to browse through and enjoy.

Grafica della Strada: the Signs of Italy by Louise Fili
Another beautiful book in and of itself, this work brings together the author’s three decade-long project of photographing the unique and stylish signs of Italy. Whether made from stone tiles or gleaming chrome, the signs, advertising everything from restaurants to the way to the bathroom, are mesmerizing and a reflection of the many stylistic changes in the country itself.

So clearly, there is no reason to repress your inner grumpus. Everything old is new again when it comes to minding your Ps and Qs.