Check It Out Category: Picks by Nancy

Staff Pick: Faithful Place by Tana French

Picture of NancyAfter hearing readers rave about Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, I picked up Faithful Place (third in the series) and now I have a new favorite author.  This title features Frank Mackey, an undercover cop who examines the complicated relationships of his own past as he works a cold case.  With its atmospheric Irish setting and flawed characters, this is an incredibly satisfying mystery. 

Staff Pick: In the Country by Mia Alvar

Picture of NancySummer is a wonderful time to pick up a collection of short stories.  I recommend Mia Alvar’s knockout debut, In the Country, which has been described by readers as dazzling, phenomenal, and stunning.  With a variety of characters as well as settings, these richly detailed stories capture the Filipino immigrant experience in an unforgettable way.

Staff Pick: Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

Picture of NancyIf you are in the mood to read something unique, I recommend Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. In this inventive novel, a late-1970s John Lennon is creatively blocked and sets off to find his private island off the coast of Ireland. I loved the unexpected detours, poetic language, and dreamlike setting. Beatles-fandom is helpful but certainly not required to enjoy this surreal story.

Staff Pick: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Picture of NancyDonna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is an engrossing novel that follows the ups and downs of New Yorker Theo Drecker. It’s a huge book with generous detail and many thought-provoking themes such as art, friendship, and the chaos and beauty of life. The flawed, charismatic characters stayed with me long after I finished the last page. If you missed it when everyone was talking about it in 2013, don’t worry – you can never be too late to the party with this award-winner.

Staff Pick: Redeployment by Phil Klay

Picture of NancyThrough a variety of voices, Phil Klay’s Redeployment explores with unflinching detail what it means to serve in the Iraq War. There are intense combat stories as well as vivid accounts of readjusting to civilian life back home. This National Book Award winner is intense and yet several of the tales artfully convey distance and numbness.

Staff Pick: Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Picture of NancyIn Maggie Shipstead’s Astonish Me, Joan Joyce, a wife and mother in California, looks back on her time as a professional ballet dancer in 1970s New York, particularly when she helped a celebrated dancer defect from the Soviet Union to the United States.  With precise, graceful language that mirrors an elegantly performed ballet, this captivating novel examines choices made and secrets kept.

Staff Pick: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Cover of The Hundred Year HouseNancy of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Laurelfield, a grand old estate north of Chicago, is the centerpiece of Rebecca Makkai’s clever novel. The book begins in 1999 with descendants of the well-heeled Devohr family. Zee Devohr and her husband Doug, both academics, are living temporarily in the coach house. Doug hopes to do research on an obscure poet who lived at Laurelfield when it was an artists’ colony in the 1920s, but Zee’s mother is surprisingly protective of whatever files and artifacts might be in the attic. The narrative travels backward in time, leaping to 1955, 1929, and 1900, revealing Laurelfield’s complicated past and its eccentric occupants. In this reverse chronological order, echoes from the past – and future – are well crafted, and the engaged reader will be rewarded. With its rich detail, fine prose, and dark humor, The Hundred Year House is a unique and satisfying read.

 For more eccentric characters in grand settings, try…

Cover of The Last Summer of the CamperdownsThe Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly is the rollicking novel about a 12-year-old girl’s eventful summer of 1972 on her dysfunctional family’s Cape Cod compound.

Cover of RoomsIn Lauren Oliver’s suspenseful novel Rooms, a troubled family arrives at the mansion of their estranged, recently deceased patriarch, but find there are ghosts too.









Cover of Bellweather RhapsodyIn the witty Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, talented high school musicians and their chaperones descend upon a huge, once-grand hotel in the Catskills for a music festival on the anniversary of a shocking crime.

Cover of A Sudden LightSet in a haunted mansion in the Pacific Northwest, A Sudden Light by Garth Stein is an atmospheric novel narrated by a 14-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to learn more about the house and his family’s secrets.

Cover of An Evening of Long GoodbyesAn Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray features colorful characters at a crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, where the cozy existence of 24-year-old Charles is about to be given a serious shake-up.

Staff Pick: 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter

Photo of NancyIn Ernessa T. Carter’s spirited 32 Candles, Davidia Jones endures a tough childhood and then reinvents herself as a singer in Los Angeles.  When she runs into her high school crush, her attraction is back in an instant, but so is her memory of a hurtful prank.  When he pursues a romance, sparks fly.  Will she get the “happy Molly Ringwald ending” she’s always wanted?