Check It Out Category: Staff Picks

Andrea’s Pick: City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Andrea's staff pick photoNahri knows better than anyone that there’s no such thing as magic. She uses sleight-of-hand and misdirection, not real magic, to con her customers.

What Nahri knows, however, is called into question when she accidentally summons an ancient djinn warrior. The djinn tells her of Daevabad, the legendary city of brass that holds the key to Nahri’s past. City of Brass will sweep you away with Nahri and her djinn companion, across scorching deserts and dangerous mountains, to the mystical city and the secrets within its walls.

Cathleen’s Pick: Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Cathleen staff picks photoIt’s a hard fall from corporate mogul to sanitorium resident, but Henry Dunbar brought this on himself. In a play for adoration, he gave up control of his company, and now those he rewarded have left him with nothing. Both clever re-imagining of King Lear and contemporary morality tale, Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar exposes the heart of a once-heartless man.

Staff Pick: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Patty from Administration suggests Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova:

Inside the OBriens book coverAre you looking for an easy read that you won’t be able to put down? My recommendation for you is Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova.

It’s a beautifully written story about what it is like to be diagnosed with a fatal degenerative disease: how you react, how you move forward, how the medical costs are crippling, and how the disease impacts everyone around you. It’s an emotional read that takes you from despair to hope and humor as you consider your own immortality.

Joe O’Brien, our main character, is a Boston Police Officer: he’s funny and he’s “real”! His view of a cop’s world in the years since the Boston Marathon bombing is enlightening to the struggles of all of those who serve. You’ll also see the internal turmoil of Joe’s friends, his wife, and his four adult children, all of whom may face the same fate as their father.

Hollywood is going to be releasing the movie of this beautiful story later this year, but I strongly encourage you to read the book first! You will cry, but you’ll laugh too, and gain a true understanding of Huntington’s Disease and others illnesses like it.

For more heartfelt, thoughtful stories of characters confronting life-altering challenges…

Partial History of Lost Causes book coverA Partial History of Lost Causes
by Jennifer DuBois
 
When her father succumbs to Huntington’s disease, Irina discovers a letter he wrote to an internationally renowned chess champion and political dissident, whom she decides to visit in Russia.
Sweetest Hallelujah book coverThe Sweetest Hallelujah
by Elaine Hussey
 
In 1955 Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and struggling to find someone to care for her daughter. With no other solution available, she takes out a want ad seeking a loving mother to take her place when she’s gone.

 

Mimi Malloy at Last book coverMimi Malloy, At Last!
by Julia MacDonnell
 
When Mimi’s MRI reveals her brain is filled with black spots, the prospect of living out her days in an “Old Timer’s facility” starts to look like more than just an idea at the top of her eldest daughter’s to-do list.
Did You Ever Have a Family book coverDid You Ever Have a Family
by Bill Clegg
 
In a devastatingly beautiful debut, survivor June struggles to accept unthinkable loss, and the entire community reels from the threads that extend both before and after the tragedy.
My Sisters Keeper book coverMy Sister’s Keeper
by Jodi Picoult
 
Conceived to provide bone marrow for her leukemia-stricken sister, teenage Anna begins to question her moral obligations and decides to fight for the right to make decisions about her own body.

 

 

Staff Pick: The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore

Edward Kelsey Moore’sPicture of Donna C. new book, The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues, picks up with the Supremes still persevering through the reappearance of an absent father, the scars of infidelity, and an unexpected wedding, all while laughing and keeping each other (mostly) sane. The literal and figurative ghosts of the past stay with these best friends as they meet every Sunday in Earl’s cozy diner.

Staff Pick: Brick

Picture of EvanIn the film Brick, you follow Brendan, a high school loner turned hard-boiled detective, who ends up a bit over his head investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. The byzantine social structures and confusing slang of high school meld perfectly with the tropes of classic film noir in this smart, witty, and twisty genre mash-up. It’s also the first feature film written and directed by Rian Johnson, who helmed the recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Staff Pick: Midsomer Murders

Picture of DonnaMidsomer Murders, a British series available on DVD, started in 1997 and is still running now in 2017. It is based on Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby mysteries.. The settings are contemporary and quaint villages in the English countryside. Each episode has several murders, interesting characters and keeps you guessing who is the villain is till near the end.

Staff Pick: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Rachel from South Branch suggests The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

The Book of Unknown Americans book coverThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez, is written as a series of interconnected stories, each of which could stand on its own. The book tells the story of several immigrant families from countries in Central and South America who end up in Delaware. We learn their backstory, what brought them to the US, and a little about how they got here, as well as getting a vivid picture of what life here is like for them living as immigrants in a country with a culture and language so distinct from their own and one in which immigrants are not always openly welcomed.

The families all live in the same apartment complex, owned by another immigrant, and their lives are at once interconnected and isolated, each family with its own challenges and obstacles to overcome. The core of the stories involve a family who comes to the US to provide educational opportunities to their daughter, who was brain damaged in an accident, and her relationship with the son of another tenant. At the same time, Henríquez interweaves this story with that of the other tenants, who face language barriers, economic hardship, and discrimination, among other challenges.

Henríquez’s writing draws you into the lives of her characters and you feel their disappointments and frustration and their small moments of joy as well. When you finish the book, you will be left hoping there will be a second book so you can continue following their stories.

Like this? Try These!

Girl in Translation
by Jean Kwok
Emigrating with her mother from Hong Kong to Brooklyn, Kimberly Chang begins a secret double life as an exceptional schoolgirl during the day and sweatshop worker at night, an existence also marked by her first crush and the pressure to save her family from poverty.
A Manual for Cleaning Women
by Lucia Berlin
Taking place in the American Southwest, an anthology of short stories, celebrating the author’s trademark blend of humor and melancholy, finds miracles in everyday life and uncovers moments of grace in cafeterias, laundromats, homes of the upper class and hotel dining rooms..

 

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents book coverHow the García Girls Lost Their Accents
by Julia Alvarez
Forced to flee their native Caribbean island after an attempted coup, the Garcias–Carlos, Laura, and their four daughters–must learn a new way of life in the Bronx, while trying to cling to the old ways that they loved.
We Never Asked for Wings book coverWe Never Asked for Wings
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
After fourteen years of working multiple jobs to make ends meet, Letty Espinosa must learn to be a mother when her parents, who have been raising Letty’s teenage son and six-year-old daughter, decide to return to Mexico.
The Leavers book coverThe Leavers
by Lisa Ko
One morning, eleven-year-old Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job and never comes home. Deming is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town. This is a poignant story of a boy who struggles to find his footing in a new world. It’s also an unflinching look at the difficult decisions a mother faces.

MPPL Staff Favorites of 2017

Staff Favorites HeaderTake a moment to reflect: what did you love this year?

As 2017 is drawing to a close, MPPL staff took time to look back on everything they watched, read, listened to, and played throughout the year in order to choose some of their favorite items they experienced. With forty staff members sharing, you’re bound to find plenty to add to your own reading, listening, watching, and gaming lists!

 

Picture of ErinAudiobook: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Book: Her Right Foot
by Dave Eggers
Book: The Empty Grave
by Jonathan Stroud
Picture of ChelseaAudiobook: Touch
by Courtney Maum
Audiobook: The Fix: Volume 1
by Nick Spencer
BookBrief Histories of Everyday Objects
by Andy Warner

 

Picture of JoanneCD: Colors
by Beck
Book: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
Book: This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare

by Gabourey Sidibe
Picture of LaRaieAudiobook: I’m Just a Person
by Tig Notaro
DVD: Insecure: The Complete First Season
CD: Something More Than Free
by Jason Isbell
Picture of JessicaBook: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez
DVD: Bleach anime series
Book: Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
retold by Jon Scieszka

 

Picture of ClaireBook: Moxie
by Jennifer Mathieu
Book: Auma’s Long Run
by Eucabeth A. Odhiambo
DVD: I Am Not Your Negro
Picture of AnneDVD: Lion
Book: A Casualty of War
by Charles Todd

 

 

 

 

Picture of KeldaBook: The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
CD: Life Love Flesh Blood
by Imelda May
Audiobook: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline

 

 

Picture of CaitlinBook: The Talisman
by Stephen King and Peter Straub
DVD: Power Rangers
CD: Strange Desire
by Bleachers
Picture of ChrisBook: Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Book: Artemis
by Andy Weir
Book: The Empty Grave
by Jonathan Stroud
Picture of MichaelBook: A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories
by Lucia Berlin
Book: The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
CD: Travelogue
by Blues Traveler

 

Picture of FrankBook: The Alexandria Quartet
by Lawrence Durrell
Book: Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace
by Leonard Mlodinow
Book: A Legacy of Spies
by John Le Carré

 

 

Picture of TaylorBook: Storm Front
by Jim Butcher
Book: Cinder
by Marissa Meyer
DVD: The Newsroom: The Complete First Season
Picture of RebecaAudiobook: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Book:The Last Black Unicorn
by Tiffany Haddish
Book: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by Erika L. Sánchez

 

 

Picture of LindaBook: Defending Jacob
by William Landay
Book: Out of the Silent Planet
by C. S. Lewis
Book: The Light Between Oceans
by M. L. Stedman
Picture of AmyCD: Joanne
by Lady Gaga
Audiobook: The Boy on the Bridge
by M. R. Carey
Book: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
Picture of JohnCD: Drunk
by Thundercat
Book: Spinning
by Tillie Walden
DVD: Twin Peaks

 

 

Picture of JenniferBook: Meddling Kids
by Edgar Cantero
Book: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss
Book: Everything You Want Me to Be
by Mindy Mejia
Picture of ElizabethAudiobook: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Audiobook: Pachinko

by Min Jin Lee
Book: Waking Gods
by Sylvain Neuvel

 

 

Picture of DonnaBook: The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
DVD: The Good Place: Season One
Book: Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid
Picture of JoeGraphic Novel: The Flintstones: Volume One & Two
by Mark Russell
Graphic Novel: Hot Dog Taste Test
by Lisa Hanawalt
Video Game: The Last of Us
Picture of AllisonBook: The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use It for Life
by Twyla Tharp
Book: Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World
by Rutger Bregman
Graphic Novel: March
by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

 

Picture of NancyBook: Born to Run
by Bruce Springsteen
Book: Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson
Book: Today Will Be Different
by Maria Semple
Picture of RosemaryBook: Glass Houses
by Louise Penny
Audiobook: Dovekeepers
by Alice Hoffman
Book: Killing Season
by Faye Kellerman
Picture of EvaDVD: Hidden Figures
DVD: Queen of the Desert
Book: A Column of Fire
by Ken Follett

 

 

Picture of MaryAudiobook:  Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
Audiobook: Listen Slowly
by Thanhha Lai
Book: Boy on the Bridge
by M. R. Carey

 

 

Picture of SamAudiobook: First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies
by Kate Andersen Brower
Audiobook: To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Audiobook: Shutter Island
by Dennis Lehane
Picture of EvanDVD: The Good Place: Season One
Book: Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches
by John Hodgman
CD: The Nashville Sound
by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Picutre of JulieBook: In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes
by Deborah Madison
DVD: Séraphine
Song: Piano Concerto no 1 in C major, op 15
composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Tafelmusik

 

 

Picture of DaleBook: Horrorstör
by Grady Hendrix
Audiobook: Set the Boy Free: The Autobiography
by Johnny Marr
CD: Sleep Well Beast
by The National
Picture of JennyBook: Sonata Mulaticca: A Life in Five Movements and a Short Play
by Rita Dove
Book: Home Fire

by Kamila Shamsie
Book: Version Control
by Dexter Palmer

 


Want more? Take a look at what staff chose in 2014, 2015, and 2016 as their favorites.

We would love to hear from you!
Write to us on Facebook or Twitter and share what your own favorites this year were. If you’re interested in personalized reading, watching, and/or listening suggestions… Ask!

Kelda’s Pick- Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

Picture of KeldaRoad trip anyone? Give a listen to Travels With Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck, read by Gary Sinise. Steinbeck sets out to find the truth about our country and he finds it accompanied by his noble steed Charley, a French poodle with personality. The prose of Steinbeck and the styling of Sinise are a perfect pairing.

Staff Pick: This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Joanne from Community Services suggests This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe 

This is Just My Face Try Not to Stare book coverAcademy Award-nominated Gabourey Sidibe became a household name shortly after the release of the movie Precious. Focusing more on her early life as a child of a proud, cab-driving, African father and a free-spirited, teacher-turned-subway-singing mother, this deeply honest memoir will make it seem like you are out to dinner with Gabourey and a couple of girlfriends trying to outdo each other with crazy family stories.

Gabby was constantly getting in trouble for being disruptive and disrespectful due to her laugh. She describes it as more like a shrill scream followed by a loud snort. Everything she did was intense and that sometimes left her lonely. Being different on the outside when everyone else is the same can make you doubt what you are on the inside. She says, “I was Gabourey in a school of Jennifers.”

After a few false starts in college and intense therapy to treat her deep depression, she found steady work using her voice-over talent. Gabourey first read the novel Push five years before auditioning for the role as Precious for the film. It was an act of fate which got her to the audition, but she had the job two days later. The rest is history.