Check It Out

Staff Pick: Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes

Barbara the Slut and Other“I was thinking I might want to study public health, but I was also thinking I might want to move to the forest and eat berries and mushrooms and hibernate with the bears in the winter.”

Through the ten stories in Barbara the Slut and Other People, Lauren Holmes is able to echo emotional truths you aren’t aware you have (why yes, I do just want to hibernate with bears) and provide ridiculous, often hilarious, story lines.

Fiction: Which Book is Which?

Chances are we have all either heard and/or asked a question similar to, “Do you have the book with the blue cover and the silhouette of a woman’s face on it?” Sometimes the memory only latches onto the image of the cover and fails to remember anything about plot or title, but what happens when the book you’re remembering looks like something else? You’re going to be getting a story a lot different than what you thought would be getting!

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott and Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Cover of Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of WondersMrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

Like your books to have stacks of other books on the cover? You are in luck with these two!

Both novels deal with one or more characters digging into the mysterious life of an elusive woman no longer alive.


Baggott’s novel delves deeper into the family surrounding famous author Harriet Wolf to uncover the mystery behind her, exploring the relationships between family members and the tension between truth and fiction, while Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase features a parallel narrative between a lonely bookseller and a suitcase filled with letters from WW2 unearthing the dramatic life of her grandmother.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg

Fates and Furies Book CoverFind Me Book Cover

Looking for a lot of blue and white with a splash of text? Try one of these!

Both are psychologically complex reads centering around weightier and darker topics with more abrasive characters.


Fate and Furies is a contemporary look beyond what appears to be a sparkling marriage into the hard-to-swallow truths at its core, whereas Find Me is a post-apocalyptic novel filled with dark humor following a young woman as she makes her way across a decimated America.

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra and Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Tsar of Love and Techno Signal to Noise

A book with a cassette tape on it… there aren’t too many newer releases with a cover like that, right? Wrong! We have some for you!

Each book plays with time: Marra’s collection of short stories spanning from the 1930s to the present, and Moreno-Garcia’s jumping from 1988 to 2009.


Moreno-Garcia’s coming-of-age tale uses magical realism to share a story of love facing your past, while Marra’s title is driven by exploring thoughts and ideas spending time with characters connected throughout history.

Bella Italia: Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano Mysteries

Ragusa Ibla“The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humor, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily.” – Donna Leon

October is Cultural Month at MPPL, and we are celebrating the rich beauties of Italy. If your globetrotting takes the form of novels rather than travel brochures, then you must make the acquaintance of Andrea Camilleri, Italy’s most successful author and one of the world’s great crime writers. 

 Lose yourself in thMontalbano book coverse depictions of lush Italia, but be warned that darkness dwells within. Inspector Montalbano, a character who has become a phenomenon, is a skilled detective who indulges biting humor, sincere compassion, and a love of good food.  This internationally bestselling series boasts not only intriguing mysteries but also insight into how Italy has changed in the last two decades. Start with the original, The Shape of Water: A Novel of Food, Wine, and Homicide in Small-Town Sicily, or sample the nineteenth, A Beam of Light, which was just released in September. Divertiti!

New Fiction: Mysterious Deaths, Unexpected Reunions, and More!

picture of new releasesAlmost everyday new books arrive at the Library to be processed and then placed on the shelf or in your hands. Take a look at some of the books that have arrived most recently at the Library. Want help getting matched with a book to fit your reading mood? Ask online or at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor.

Newly Arrived Books:

City on Fire Book Cover

by Garth Risk Hallberg

When the infamous NYC blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges the world into darkness, each of the characters’ lives will be changed, irrevocably.

Thirteen Ways of Looking Book Cover

by Colum McCann

McCann charts the territory of chance, and the profound and intimate consequences of even our smallest moments in this collection of short stories.

Early One Morning Book Cover

by Virginia Baily

On the verge of fleeing Rome during WWII, Chiara rescues Daniele, a child about to be herded onto a truck with his family. Decades later Daniele’s daughter contacts her.

Buffalo Trail Book Cover

by Jeff Guinn

Fleeing from his nemesis, Killer Boots, Cash McLendon seeks refuge in Dodge City with a band of buffalo hunters who head south to the Texas panhandle into forbidden Indian Territory.

All I Want Book Cover

by Jill Shalvis

As danger surrounds them, Pilot Zoe Stone finds herself attracted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent who hired her to fly him around to collect evidence on a suspected smuggler.

And West Is West Book Cover

by Ron Childress

Showing the devastating power of new technology, a young Air Force drone pilot and an innovative young Wall Street giant are cast out of their respective careers for decisions they did not make.

The Adventuress Book Cover

by Tasha Alexander

The merrymaking of an engagement party in the French Riviera is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide.

Mystics of Mile End Book Cover

by Sigal Samuel

Long-held family secrets square off against faith and secularity in this debut novel, written with extraordinary heart and intelligence.

The Dead Student Book Cover

by John Katzenbach

Refusing to believe his uncle killed himself, Timothy “Moth” Warner calls on the only person he can trust, an ex-girlfriend, to find out the truth.

The Clasp Book Cover

by Sloane Crosley

A story of friends struggling to fit together now that their lives haven’t gone as planned, Victor, Nathaniel and Kezia begin a hunt for a necklace lost during the Nazi occupation of France.

A. D. 33 Book Cover

by Ted Dekker

When Maviah, the Queen of Outcasts’, growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more.

The Monet Murders Book Cover

by Terry Mort

Set in 1930s Hollywood, private investigator Riley Fitzhugh investigates the disappearance of a producer’s girlfriend, while trying to recover a stolen Monet.

Staff Pick: School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Mary Jane of Research Services suggests The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Cover of The School of Essential Ingredients

Once a month, eight students gather in Lillian’s restaurant for a cooking class. They may not realize it but they’re also looking to find a recipe for problems in their own lives. Lillian, a master chef in more ways than one, knows that she teaches lessons more subtle and far-reaching than chopping or blending or achieving the ideal texture. Bauermeister takes up the story of each of her students, and Lillian herself, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. The results are often unexpected but always delicious!


For more books on female friendship and life changes, try…

Cover of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.



Persian Pickle Club Book Cover


The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas is a story of loyalty and friendship in a women’s quilting circle set in 1930’s Kansas.



The Jane Austen Book Club Book Cover

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler is a witty look at the lives and loves of six people, all members of Central Valley, California’s “all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club.”



Love Goddess' Cooking School Book Cover

The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate is a delicious mix of wishes and memories with more than a dash of spice in her latest novel centered on healing and cooking.



Bread Alone Book Cover

Bread Alone by Judith R. Hendricks is a story of a woman who, after the break-up of her marriage, discovers that making bread possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power, helping her to rediscover that nothing stays the same: bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals, and the future beckons.


Asked at the Desk: Louise Penny and Erik Larson

Looking for a book that will sweep you into a different land? Want a comedy that is family friendly? How about a new fantasy series that is just as addictive as A Song of Ice and Fire?

These are just a few examples of questions we get daily at the Fiction/AV/Teen desk! Recently, what authors have been asked for a lot at the desk?

Louise Penny and Erik Larson

Picture of author Louise PennyLouise Penny is the author of a police procedural mystery series featuring the one and only Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. A thoughtful man of simple pleasures and highly respected by his colleagues,  he unravels the whos and hows behind a dark murder. The familiar characters in each book grow as the series continues, allowing those who choose to read in order satisfying character development arcs.


Start with Still Life if you would like to read the series from the beginning, or place yourself on hold for the recent release, The Nature of the Beast, which has been met with rave reviews.

Cover of Still Life Cover of The Nature of the Beast

Interested in the complete series order? See here.

Picture of author Erik LarsonErik Larson weaves together different people and events in history in order to create engaging nonfiction books. His books vary in topic covering the Chicago World Faire paired with the serial killer Herman Mudgett, the first American Ambassasor in Germany during WWII, a hurricane in the 1900s killing 10 thousand people in Texas, and more. His most recent release is Dead Wake.

Not a big reader of nonfiction but want to start? Try Larson!

The titles below, Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck, and Dead Wake, are just a small sampling of what he’s written.

Cover of Devil in the White City Thunderstruck Cover of Dead Wake

Fiction: Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott vs. Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

They’re your neighbors. You walk past them every day, share the same walls, and are secondary characters to the movie of their life. But do you know them? Do you want to know them?

These two 2015 fiction releases take time to explore the inhabitants of apartment buildings: the good, the bad, and the quirky.

Cover of Infinite Home

Cover of Fishbowl








If you want a heavy novel with moments of lightness, try…

Infinite Home by Kathleen Alcott

A heartening story of finding home in unexpected places, Edith, a widow who has been renting out apartments in her Brooklyn brownstone, is beginning to lose her mental and physical health. Faced with the ailments of aging, her eclectic tenants band together to protect this sanctuary they all so desperately need.

If you want a lighter novel with moments of heaviness, try…

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer

Ian is a goldfish trapped in his fishbowl on the twenty-seventh-floor of an apartment building. Seizing a chance to escape, he jumps out of the bowl off the balcony and gets a sneak peak into the lives of an assortment of residents. An omniscient narrator marks the passage of Ian’s fall and draws the connections between the stories contained in this building– all which take place within a span of thirty minutes.

Book Discussion Questions: Breakfast at Sally’s by Richard LeMieux

Breakfast at Sallys book coverTitle:
Breakfast at Sally’s: One Homeless Man’s Inspirational Journey 
Author: Richard LeMieux
Page Count: 433 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Tone:  Thought-provoking, Moving, Hopeful

A self-made man with his own successful company, Richard LeMieux lived a very comfortable life. After losing everything, he spent two years living out of his van and learning to rely on others’ generosity. His uplifting story cuts through stereotypes and offers a powerful look at homelessness in society.

These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. How did you feel as you were reading this story? For example, were you offended, repulsed, ashamed, indignant, uncomfortable, concerned, and/or inspired during different chapters?

2. Many reviews, including one comment on the back of the book, claim that Breakfast at Sally’s “refutes the stereotypes that the general public has about the homeless population.” Do you agree?

3. What did you think of C? What impact does he have on Richard?

4. Willow is an important part of Richard’s story. How would his experiences be different without her?

5. Describe Richard at different points in the book. How does he change? Do you find him to be sympathetic? Do you like him?

6. How reliable a narrator is Richard? Is this factual, embellished, whitewashed, or dramatized? Do you trust him? Does it matter?

7. What other characters and situations did you find memorable? What made them stand out?

8. What about those who did make an effort to help? What were their reasons or motivations?

9. How was religion depicted? What role did this play in Richard’s stories?

10. Could this story have happened in another U.S. city? LeMieux gives a lot of credit to Bremerton; is it unique in this respect?

11. Though dealing with very serious realities, Breakfast at Sally’s is hopeful and inspiring. How does LeMieux keep the story from becoming preachy or weighed down with heavy issues?

12. What did you think of the writing style? Did you appreciate the use of flashbacks?

13. How is this book relevant to our communities today? What messages might it convey about mental health, depression, compassion, or activism?

14. What difference might this book make? What can we do?

15. Did this story change your perception of the homeless? In what ways?

16. Is this an easier topic to consider due to current economic pressures? In other words, are we more likely to see this as something that could happen to ourselves or those we know and therefore more open to understanding and to wanting to take action?

17. Did you feel pressure to like this book or to be changed by it because of the subject matter?

18. Are you glad you read Breakfast at Sally’s?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!


2015 video interview with Richard LeMieux
New York Times featured review
insights to selection as Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year
regional Salvation Army testimonials
official Breakfast at Sally’s website


Street Cat Named Bob book coverGirls Guide to Homelessness book coverHomeless at Harvard book cover
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen
The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir by Brianna Karp
Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square by John Christopher Frame

Fiction: Books Under Construction

Picture of Construction

If you haven’t seen it yet, construction has started on the second floor! Bring that construction home with you in the form of a book. While the soundtrack of clanging and banging is not included, between these pages you can bring alive the adventures of renovators turned sleuths, half-fae construction workers, summer romances with contractors, and more.

Cover of Disappearing Acts Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan

The intense love story between a young construction worker and a struggling singer from Ohio who are swept away by each other. Can they make the sacrifices needed to sustain their love?



Cover of If Walls Could TalkIf Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

A funny light mystery, Melanie Turner’s home renovation reputation is on the line when the ghost of a colleague murdered on the job starts to visit her.




Cover of Three Story HouseThree Story House by Courtney Miller Santo

Three cousins who feel like they’ve failed at life come together to renovate a nearly condemned house. As they rebuild their house, their lives are rebuilt as well in this warm tale of friendship.



Cover of Summer at Willow LakeSummer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Escaping a broken engagement, Olivia is spending the summer renovating her family’s old resort camp and hires a flame from her history: Contractor Connor Davis.



Cover of The Monkey's WrenchThe Monkey’s Wrench by Primo Levi

A construction worker and a writer-chemist share stories of life, work, and how they intertwine, creating a thoughtful mediation.


Cover of Trailer Park FaeTrailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow

An urban fantasy filled with colorful characters and a carefully crafted world, Jeremy Gallow, a half-human, half-fae and happily full-time construction worker, is pulled back into a world of enchantment to uncover why fullborn-fae are dying.



Cover of You're NextYou’re Next by Gregg Hurwitz

Owner of a successful construction company, Mike Wingate begins to receive terrifying threats against himself and his family in this suspenseful thriller!