Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Staff Picks

Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson

This book is often considered the best one-volume history of the Civil War era. It starts well before the war, explaining the underlying social, cultural, economic, demographic, and political situation in the United States that led up to the attack by Confederates on Fort Sumter, SC in 1861 and the four years of horrible war to follow. It is a comprehensive and dense book with many dates, names, and other facts. But even if you don't remember all the details, you will walk away with a much better understanding of the War, the United States, and perhaps even human nature. ~Meredith, CCL

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

This funny and poignant novel features 13-year-old Aven who moves from Kansas to Arizona with her loving adoptive parents and copes with a new life including a new middle school. Born without arms, Aven is an irrepressible protagonist who faces challenges with a "problem-solving ninja" attitude. The novel's well-defined secondary characters, most especially Connor who has Tourette's Syndrome, add an emotional depth to this thoughtful story. An excellent read for upper-elementary and middle school students whose parents are sure to enjoy it as well. ~Susan, HH

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

This tale of family secrets in the unforgiving Australian outback twists slowly but ominously toward a surprise ending.  Two brothers meet at the family home to plan a funeral for the middle child who may have been murdered.  Cameron was the responsible and popular brother; why would someone kill him?  The author builds beautifully textured descriptions of the country and very believably flawed characters in this hard to put down novel.  Fans of atmospheric, twisty suspense will enjoy this one. ~Kristen, HH

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden weaves together Russian history and folklore in the dark, fascinating Winternight trilogy.  In this first book Vasya is coming of age in medieval Russia and she discovers that she has inherited magical abilities.  She befriends the frost king/god of death and the house spirits.  The new priest in town and the god of fear that he has made a bargain with bring trouble and danger to Vasya and her family.  Arden brings the characters, the time period, and folklore to life.  This trilogy is a must read for fans of literary historical fantasy. ~Jessie, CCL

Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? by Kelly Jones

This sequel to Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is as funny as the first. The novel is told in letters to Sophie's deceased uncle, grandmother, and fellow farmer, as well as, emails between her and another unusual poultry farmer. Sophie is ready for the next task in poultry farming: hatching chickens. As with her other chickens, these are unusual but it's the mundane hatching task, plus school, and friendships that give her the most challenges. ~Danielle, CCL

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