Staff Picks Archive

Recent Staff Picks

Pumpkinheads

Pumpkinheads is a fall-tastic graphic novel! Deja and Josiah are seasonal friends. They have worked together through their high school years at the best pumpkin patch ever! But this is their last season, last shift, last goodbye.

Trish
Teen Assistant

Graphic Novel

Romance

Rent Book

Dear Girls: intimate tales, untold secrets, and advice for living your best life

Ali Wong is a comedienne, although she also works as an actor and has been in several television productions. Her book is a memoir written for her daughters, although she makes it a point to say that they need to be much older before reading this book. It is indeed raw in some respects—not suitable reading for children, but I found it interesting in reading about her life growing up in San Francisco as an Asian American, and, of course, funny because she is a stand-up comedian and enjoys making people laugh.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Memoir

Rent Book

Sisters of Shadow and Light

It took me a little bit to get into the story at first but then I was hooked. Beautifully written foray into the world of fantasy and magic with real-world elements that bring the characters to life.

Caroline
Page

Adventure

Fantasy

Romance

Rent Book

I’m Your Huckleberry

A lovely, lovely read! I first fell in love with Val Kilmer when I watched Real Genius in high school (I think I’ve seen it 6 times!) In this book, he reminisces on his life, career, loves, triumphs, and failures all with self-effacing wonderment and cocky reflection. He’s wonderfully weird, he speaks to you the reader as a friend, and I just loved it.

Tracy
Library Assistant - Billing

Biography

Rent Book

The Stranger Beside Me

The Stranger Beside Me details Ted Bundy's life and focuses on the murders he committed in the 1970s. Ann Rule has a unique perspective in that she befriended Ted before it was known he was a serial killer and was in fact writing about and researching the crimes Ted was committing. After finding out about the true Ted, she decided to write this book detailing her experience.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Biography

Rent Book

Red Notice

Bill Browder details his time in Russia as a hedge fund manager and how he came to the attention of Vladimir Putin after uncovering corruption within the Russian government. After hiring Sergei Magnitsky to investigate the Russian government's allegations that Browder evaded paying taxes, Magnitsky found far reaching corruption between Russian oligarchs and the government. This prompted the Russians to blacklist Browder and try and convict him in absentia for trumped up charges. Magnitsky was subsequently imprisoned, tortured and killed and this sparked Bill Browder's campaign to pursue justice for his friend and spread awareness of fraud throughout Putin's Russia.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Biography

Rent Book

Unknown Pleasures : inside Joy Division

Unknown Pleasures is the story of the short-lived and mysterious band Joy Division. Peter Hook, the bassist, recounts the formation, rise and abrupt end of the band with Ian Curtis' (lead singer) untimely death. Hook is straightforward, honest and a bit saucy in his recollection of his former band and band mates.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Memoir

Music

Rent Book

Leaving Richard’s Valley

A group of talking animals, including a raccoon, a dog, and a spider, leave a cult led by an egomaniac named Richard and struggle to survive in the big city. Michael DeForge deftly mixes wry humor with heartfelt anguish to pry open the complexities of living in the modern world.

Nathan Mahlberg
Assistant to the Teen Librarian

Graphic Novel

Rent Book

The Death of Stalin

In this dark comedy, Stalin's inner circle scrambles to fill the power vacuum after his death and hilarity ensues. Though taking some Hollywood liberties, this is a rather accurate satire of how the most powerful people in the Soviet Union squabbled and fought over how the country should move forward after their 'beloved' leader has died.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Comedy

History

Satire

Rent DVD

Unforgotten

Unforgotten is a British crime drama television series. The program follows two London detectives, DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan, as they solve cold cases of disappearance and murder. Each season deals with a new case, introducing seemingly unconnected characters who are gradually revealed to have some relationship with the victim. As the murder mystery unfolds, the emotional ramifications of the crime are also explored in the lives of those affected.

Mindy
Reference Assistant

Drama

Mystery

Rent Movie

Letters of Note

This collection of letters provides an intimate glimpse at the correspondences of some of the most noteworthy and notorious figures in history. Whether it's Queen Elizabeth II providing President Eisenhower with her scones recipe or Mohandas Gandhi pleading with Hitler to choose peace instead of war a month before he invaded Poland, there is bound to be a letter that speaks to you.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Biography

History

Rent Book

Wow, no thank you

Another very funny, albeit often earthy and raw, book by Samantha Irby. I enjoy her witty observances, very real descriptions of how she feels about life, and her ability to cut to the chase. Again and again I found myself laughing out loud!

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Humor

Rent Book

Some Places More Than Others

The only thing Amara wants for her 12th birthday is to visit her Dad's family in Harlem, to see where he grew up and spend time with the family she hardly knows. But something happened 12 years ago between Amara's Dad and Grandpa and she doesn't know if it can be fixed. While she tries, she also finds herself on a journey of self-discovery--finding out about her place in her family and in the world.

Anna
Youth Services Manager

Chapter Book

Rent Book

The Chocolate Maker’s Wife

This book is loaded with topics to discuss! The one that impacted me the most due to our current COVID pandemic, is that the Plague of London 1665 was featured extensively. The book also includes tons of information on the rise of Chocolate popularity, the life and culture of the British in the 1600's, the Fire of London 1666, abuse of women and of Black people, and romance is woven into it all. The book did not catch my attention for about 4 pages, but I'm glad that I persisted, as the plot grew and picked up speed. Brooks, an author from Australia, did tons of research on the time period, people and all of the content that she included! The book is very, very dense with history and content, so it took me a long time to read it, even with all of the time that I had to spare in this time of "shelter in place."

Marlys Lien
Adult Progamming Librarian

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Edward Tulane is the beloved china rabbit of a young girl named Abilene. When they are separated Edward embarks on an epic journey to the depths of the sea and the top of a garbage heap. But more importantly, he journeys through love and loss and back again. This is a beautifully written story that would be wonderful for an independent reader or as a child/caregiver read aloud.

Anna Hartmann
Youth Services Manager

Adventure

Chapter Book

Rent Book

How to Raise a Reader

This is a fantastic book for parents with kids of all ages--it's never too late to help your child love reading! The authors, both of whom work for the NY Times Book Review, provide book recommendations and strategies for showing your kids from birth-teenager the great value and joy that can be found in a good book.

Anna Hartmann
Youth Services Manager

Rent Book

Into Thin Air

We climb with the author up Mount Everest, from the Napal side of the mountain to the top, experiencing the effects of the loss of oxygen and strength as he climbs. Krakauer was writing a piece for the Outsider magazine, about climbing the tallest mountain in the world. This was a sad book to read. I do not understand the drive that exists in these people to climb a mountain, risking their life to complete the challenge! Knowing that you can kill yourself with a slip of a step or a broken rope connection OR due to the various affects that the lack of oxygen can do to the heart and brain, and still pushing to climb is insane, in my personal opinion.

Marlys Lien
Adult Progamming Librarian

History

Rent Book

Between You and Me

Centered in the culture of the Amish in Pennsylvania, the resident doctor, Reese meets Caleb, who is caught between two worlds, bound by a deathbed promise to raise his orphaned niece and nephew in Middle Grove, where life revolves around family, farm, faith, and the English world of medical care and technology. When his nephew loses a hand in a farm accident, questions of ethics are confronted as the two worlds clash for Reese and Caleb, on what is best for his children. This was both a thought provoking read and an education into the practices of the Amish.

Marlys Lien
Adult Progamming Librarian

Romance

Rent Book

The Yankee Widow

This book combines the best of two genres -- historical fiction and romance! Set in Gettysburg, PA during the Civil War, Caroline, a recent widow when her husband, Jacob, gets wounded and dies from battle as a Union soldier, finds her farm on the outskirts of the Battle of Gettysburg, and requisitioned to be a battle site hospital for the wounded. The noise and blood of battle are blended with the protection of a runaway slave, and the romance of two soldiers - a Yankee and a Rebel -- for her love. I was drawn away from other household tasks to read this book to the finish to see who won her heart!

Marlys Lien
Adult Progamming Librarian

Historical Fiction

Romance

Rent Book

Wild Bird

An exhilarating story of survival and second chances! This book grabbed me by the wrist on page one! Riveting!

Trish
Teen Assistant

Adventure

Female Protagonist

Rent Book

Hello, World!

If your child enjoys I-Spy or Look and Find style books, this new title is super fun! The book explores a place called Happy County in a bit of a nod to Richard Scarry. There are lots of cute, quirky animal characters and tons of fun stuff to find!

Anna Hartmann
Youth Services Manager

Picture Book

Rent Book

Smile

Dental drama at its finest for a preteen girl! Smile is a memoir graphic novel that centers around Telgemeier's traumatic orthodontic experience, along with the struggles of puberty, friendships and fitting in at school. I also love how Raina illustrates and describes the scenes so well!

Trish
Teen Assistant

Graphic Novel

Humor

Rent Book

Today We Go Home

This book is a salute to the women who are serving in the military for our country. It blends the heroic efforts of a soldier returning from Afghanistan, suffering from PTSD, with a Civil War soldier, who leaves a diary of her experiences as a soldier. Yes a woman soldier! Larkin discovers a treasure in the belongings of her best friend who dies in combat : the diary of Emily Wilson, a young woman who disguised herself as a man to fight for the Union in the Civil War. The book alternates between these two women to share their stories.

Marlys Lien
Adult Programming Librarian

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

A Gentleman in Moscow

How is one's life changed when a person is forced to stay within the walls of one building for the rest of your life? Though this book is set in Russia, during the 1930 - 1950's, the topics of ones' emotional, mental and physical health in a confined setting is very applicable to our current conditions of "Sheltering in Place." When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Time passes, friendships with hotel staff and guests grow, and bring humorous and touching adventures for this Gentleman in Moscow.

Marlys Lien
Adult Programming Librarian

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

The Unhoneymooners

Wow! What a romance! This is a blend of situational comedy and hate/love relationship which made the book a fun, fast read and memorable to me. Twin sister Olive finds herself going on the free Hawaiian honeymoon with her sister, Ali's brother-in-law, Ethan, whom Olive hates. When the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren't affected are Olive and Ethan. Enduring Ethan turns out to not be "such a trial" as they try to enjoy Maui.

Marlys Lien
Adult Programming Librarian

Humor

Romance

Rent Book

Guts

Another great book by Raina Telemeier! This time Raina chronicles her battles with anxiety while growing up, including bouts of nausea and fear of potentially disagreeable foods! I love how she writes and draws her phobias and insecurities with a little humor.

Trish
Teen Services Assistant

Graphic Novel

Humor

Rent Book

Before we were yours

Based on historical facts about the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, Wingate weaves a compelling and sometimes horrifying story about two young girls who were adopted from the orphanage. Each chapter takes you from present day to the 1930’s making the story easy to follow. I couldn’t help but researching Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. It’s not pleasant to read about, but it enticed me to check out “Mommie Dearest,” since Joan Crawford adopted two of her children from this orphanage.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

The Dutch House

Probably every family has dysfunction, definitely some more than others, and needless to say, the brother and sister who spent much of their formative years in the “Dutch House,” have quite a bit of dysfunction to deal with. The children have a very close relationship throughout their lives, mostly because they only had each other. How their feelings get manifested though, is what makes this story an excellent read. It's a bonus that Tom Hanks reads the audio version of the book.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Literary Fiction

Rent Book

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

The unique narration from the point of view of a ghost watching Frankie in the Chicago Orphanage where she and her sister were left by their father temporarily leaves a haunting impression. Surviving the Great Depression with absolutely no control over their own lives, Frankie and her sister navigate teen years and the adult issues brought on early by poverty, war, and the new woman in their father's life. What will happen to Frankie? The ghost in her room is watching, eager to know and lend a hand as she is able.

Jamie
Teen Services Manager

Female Protagonist

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

Resistance

World War II historical fiction meets suspense in this page turner. Sixteen-year-old Chaya is a Jewish girl living in Poland in 1942. She looks more Polish than she does Jewish. That makes her a great courier who smuggles food and documents to the isolated Jewish ghettos in southern Poland. When a mission goes wrong she joins forces with someone she doesn't quite trust and finds herself on a journey to Warsaw. Now all they have to do is survive, for themselves, and for their people.

Jamie
Teen Services Manager

Adventure

Female Protagonist

Historical Fiction

Rent Book

Inside Out: A Memoir

Honestly, I wouldn't say I'm a huge Demi Moore fan, but I did walk away from this audio book with some newfound respect! Despite becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood and her stunning good looks, she hasn't had the easiest life!

Trish
Teen Assistant

Memoir

Rent Book

Fifty things that aren’t my fault

If you have enjoyed the writing of Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron, you will enjoy this book by Cathy Guisewite, the creator of the "Cathy" comic strip. Every essay will give you something to laugh about, relate to, or a bit of a life lesson. The humor and wisdom that was relayed in her comic strip is evident throughout the book.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Humor

Rent Book

The Body: A guide for occupants

In the style of several of Bill Bryson's other books, namely "At Home" and "One Summer," this book goes into great detail about our most precious gift, our body. Packed with information, statistics, and descriptions, it's the kind of book you'll need to read at least twice just to absorb the text. I am a huge Bill Bryson fan and books like this keep me coming back for more.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Physiology

Rent Book

Rusty Brown

Genius cartoonist Chris Ware delivers yet again with the monumental Rusty Brown. Ware's meticulous illustrations and evocative text shine a light on the pathetic shortcomings and revelatory triumphs in the lives of five disparate individuals at a Omaha high school.

Nathan Mahlberg
Assistant to the Teen Librarian

Graphic Novel

Rent Book

Troublemaker

In Troublemaker, Leah Remini recounts her upbringing in the church of Scientology. She pulls back the curtain on the inner workings of the church and some of the bizarre practices and personalities involved. Ultimately we see her break with the church and consequently what this means for her and her family and friends. She becomes an outspoken critic of the church when she demands to know the whereabouts of her friend and the wife of the leader of Scientology, Shelly Miscavige. This inquiry is the beginning of Leah's constant harassment and slandering by the higher ups of this cult masquerading as a religion.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Biography

Religion

Rent Book

This Blessed Earth

This Blessed Earth follows a Nebraska family for one year and details the struggles and successes of running a family farm. Amid the corporate takeover of land and livestock, fluctuating markets and the unpredictability of weather, family farms have the deck stacked against them. Genoways gives readers an intimate look into what it takes to survive year to year in an increasingly demanding occupation.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Food & Cooking

History

Rent Book

Bunny

Bunny is a psychological thriller about a grad student named Samantha who is enrolled in a writing program. She is a loner compared to her peers in the program who are a cliquey group of overly sentimental rich girls who call each other "Bunny." Her view of them changes when they invite her to socialize and she ditches her only friend Ava to be with them. During this time, the line between reality and a horrific fantasy world are blurred and Samantha must determine who she can trust, including herself.

Daley
Reference Assistant

Horror

Thriller

Rent Book

Bob

When Livy arrives at her grandmother's Australian farm after 5 years away, she soon discovers Bob--a creature living in the closet--a friend--whom she had forgotten all about. An alternating narrative reveals a story of enduring friendship as Bob and Livy try to solve the mystery of Bob's presence at Gran's house. I always love a book that helps me believe in a little magic in the world.

Anna
Youth Services Manager

Chapter Book

Fantasy

Rent Book

O Pioneers!

It’s hard to believe that I grew up in the Midwest and had not read a Cather book. It’s true, and sad that it took me this long, and this won’t be my last. This book hit all the marks with good times, bad times, sad times, and triumphs. The descriptions of the weather alone will cause you to look around and marvel at her depictions of the place where you live. Even if you’ve read it, I recommend you read it again!

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Classic

Rent Book

Ninth House

Galaxy "Alex" Stern, a survivor, has won a place at Yale because of her ability to see ghosts. She's the newest initiate of Lethe, the ninth of the university's notorious secret societies, responsible for oversight whenever magical rituals are conducted by the other eight. Alex is supposed to learn how all the societies operate, make sure they're not breaking the rules, keep ghosts from interrupting arcane rites, and take a full load of courses and keep up appearances. Then Alex's mentor disappears and a townie with connections to several societies is murdered. Alex's violent past hasn't necessarily prepared her for the academic and arcane rigors of Yale, but she finds she is admirably suited to the role of tenacious detective as she works to understand how all the puzzle pieces fit together.

Mindy
Reference Assistant

Fantasy

Mystery

Rent Book

Police Story

Jackie Chan explodes onto the screen in an action comedy that hits you like a punch to the gut! Written, directed, and starring Chan, Police Story follows Ka-Kui, a dedicated cop tasked with taking down a powerful drug kingpin. Featuring outrageous stunts performed by Chan himself, this movie will have you uttering 'wow' under your breath over and over again.

Nathan Mahlberg
Assistant to the Teen Librarian

Action

Rent DVD

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

This book was funny, endearing, and thoroughly entertaining! I want to be a good friend of the main character and run around with her eccentric crew of friends and family! Oh, and did you know all racehorses have the same birthday?!

Caroline
Page

romantic comedy

Rent Book

The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. Volume One

Discover the hidden origins of the world's favorite miserly duck! Follow along as a young Scrooge searches the wilds of America in an attempt to strike it rich, and in the process runs into a few well known characters eager to help. The beautifully rendered art of Don Rosa will suck you right into this cartoon epic of unbridled ambition and unchecked greed.

Nathan Mahlberg
Asisstant to the Teen Librarian

Graphic Novel

Rent Book

Theft by Finding

David Sedaris’ books are favorites of mine. Several of his books are in the style of epistolary writing. This books is as well and consists of his diaries over a span of nearly 30 years. The diary entries are his usual somewhat humorous style of dry and ironic tales—often sad, although you will still laugh. I always get his books on audio because you absolutely have to have him as the narrator to enjoy his work. If you are a fan, you’ll find this the perfect antidote to help you endure any kind of dreary and boring day that you might otherwise be having.

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Humor

Rent Book

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace is footage of Aretha Franklin recording her 1972 gospel album in New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The ease with which she reaches the high notes and the buttery smoothness of the low notes is unbelievable. She also makes sweating profusely look more beautiful than anyone I've ever seen. The energy of the room is palpable. Many audience members are brought to tears. Definitely a must see!

Kate Humphreys
Circulation

Music

Rent DVD

Dark Age – Fifth in the Red Rising Series

He broke the chains. Then he broke the world…. A decade ago Darrow led a revolution, and laid the foundations for a new world. Now he’s an outlaw. Cast out of the very Republic he founded, with half his fleet destroyed, he wages a rogue war on Mercury. Outnumbered and outgunned, is he still the hero who broke the chains? Or will he become the very evil he fought to destroy?

Mindy
Reference Assistant

Epic

Science Fiction

Rent Book

To Night Owl from Dogfish

This book is a modern-day twist on one of my all-time favorite movies, The Parent Trap (original Haley Mills, not the remake with Lindsay Lohan!). Avery and Bett are the daughters of single gay dads who have fallen in love. They are first pushed together and later torn a part. Then the tables turn and they are covertly pushing their parents together! This is a sweet story of friendship and of families that are built with the people we choose.

Anna
Youth Services Manager

Chapter Book

Rent Book

Stoner

It’s rather rare to find a novel so well-written and compelling that it stays with you long after you’ve finished. I read about this book in an article in the Rotarian magazine. The columnist mentioned the book as one he continues to read over and over because of its many layers and how he has a different experience every time he reads it. If character development in a book something you like, I highly recommend “Stoner.”

Kathy Rieger
Library Director

Literary Fiction

Rent Book

Last One Home

Wow, the last pages brought me to tears, but I won't tell you how it ends! Macomber brings together the stories of the three Palmer sisters. Being an abused wife, Cassie fights for her survival, sanity and family with determination. Receiving a grant from Habitat for Humanity and meeting Steve throws her world topsy-turvy. Getting a phone call from her sister about inheriting some of her parents' furniture, and reconnecting her to her sisters "puts the icing on the cake!"

Marlys Lien
Adult Programming Librarian

Romance

Rent Book

The Seven Longest Yards

He was told he'd never walk again. She was losing hope that she'd ever feel whole again. This is their miraculous true story of defying the impossible.

Lee DeWald
Library Assistant

Memoir

Religion

Rent Book

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver is a subversive retelling of Rumpelstiltskin which follows the lives of three women of different social standings. Set in a fantastical world much like 17th Century Eastern Europe, our story weaves together myth and fairy tale to tell us about the power of fate and choice. This is a must read for fans of Robin McKinley or Sarah J. Maas.

Sam
Teen Services Assistant

Fairy Tale

Female Protagonist

Rent Book