Book List, Staff Picks

New Staff Picks

It’s that time again – time to check in with our wonderful staff of booksellers to see what they’re reading and loving this week!

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Immediately enthralling, I couldn’t put down this compelling story! I have always had a soft spot for secret society stories but The Maidens is much more than that. I found myself caring so deeply for Mariana and hoping that her quest would help her find some closure for herself.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly).

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

The Worst Best Summer by Elizabeth Eulberg

A heartwarming tale of best friends, THE BEST WORSR SUMMER is one of those books that will break your heart and make it jump for joy. Moving back and forth between the past and present, the lives of each of these kids and how they intertwine is masterfully done and pulls you into the story even more. A coming-of-age story wrapped up in a small town mystery, this book is one you’ll be compelled to read until the end!

From the acclaimed author of The Great Shelby Holmes comes a new middle grade story about two summers-three decades apart-and the box of secrets linking them together.

This is going to be the worst summer ever for Peyton. Her family just moved, and she had to leave her best friend behind. She’s lonely. She’s bored. Until . . . she comes across a box buried in her backyard, with a message: I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. Things are about to get interesting.

Back in 1989, it’s going to be the best summer ever for Melissa and Jessica. They have two whole months to goof around and explore, and they’re even going to bury a time capsule! But when one girl’s family secret starts to unravel, it’s clear things may not go exactly as planned.

In alternating chapters, from Peyton in present day to Melissa three decades earlier (a time with no cell phones, no social media, and camera film that took days to develop, but also a whole lot of freedom), beloved author Elizabeth Eulberg tells the story of a mystery that two sets of memorable characters will never forget.

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

This isn’t my most original pick, but it’s a must for any fans of the vampire genre. Ms. Rice needs no introduction, but if by chance you’ve never read (or seen) Interview with the Vampire, allow me to acquaint the two of you. It’s pure gothic horror, with all of the delectable and opulent prose that goes with the genre. These are the vampires of nightmare!

Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly sensual, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Kingdom of Souls follows Arrah who comes from a very powerful family, but has no magic of her own. This leads her to trade years of her life for magic. When I read this book I was immediately invested in the story and I had so much fun reading about these characters and the world.

A girl with no gifts must bargain for the power to fight her own mother’s dark schemes—even if the price is her life.

Crackling with dark magic, unspeakable betrayal, and daring twists you won’t see coming, this explosive YA fantasy debut is a can’t-miss, high-stakes epic perfect for fans of LegendbornStrange the Dreamer, and Children of Blood and Bone.

Heir to two lines of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. Yet she fails at bone magic, fails to call upon her ancestors, and fails to live up to her family’s legacy. Under the disapproving eye of her mother, the Kingdom’s most powerful priestess and seer, she fears she may never be good enough.

But when the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, Arrah is desperate enough to turn to a forbidden, dangerous ritual. If she has no magic of her own, she’ll have to buy it—by trading away years of her own life.

Arrah’s borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal, and on its heels, a rising tide of darkness that threatens to consume her and all those she loves. She must race to unravel a twisted and deadly scheme… before the fight costs more than she can afford.

Set in a richly imagined world inspired by whispered tales of voodoo and folk magic, Rena Barron’s captivating debut is the beginning of a thrilling saga about a girl caught between gods, monsters, and the gift and the curse of power.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I will read anything Celeste Ng writes, with every story she pens a masterpiece. About family, inequality, and upholding the status quo, this story follows two distinct families who come together with disastrous consequences. Told in a non-linear timeline, it is a family drama and mystery wrapped into one, and a race to figure out how it will end. The nuanced tension and not-so-quaint domesticity will keep you engaged and guessing until the very end.

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

We Are What We Eat by Alice Waters

I am a food fanatic, and I love to bake, cook, and eat. I strive to be somewhat of an expert in my family about food, and this book helped me understand why food is so important for us as humans. In this New York Time bestseller Walter described it as ‘slow food culture’ is the core of her philosophy around food, slowing down and enjoying the moments around us, the food, the flavor, and the community behind food. She talks about how American culture around food, especially fast-food, has created a disconnect between the meal and the community us humans so desperately need, especially after 2020.

From chef and food activist Alice Waters, an impassioned plea for a radical reconsideration of the way each and every one of us cooks and eats

In We Are What We Eat, Alice Waters urges us to take up the mantle of slow food culture, the philosophy at the core of her life’s work. When Waters first opened Chez Panisse in 1971, she did so with the intention of feeding people good food during a time of political turmoil. Customers responded to the locally sourced organic ingredients, to the dishes made by hand, and to the welcoming hospitality that infused the small space–human qualities that were disappearing from a country increasingly seduced by takeout, frozen dinners, and prepackaged ingredients. Waters came to see that the phenomenon of fast food culture, which prioritized cheapness, availability, and speed, was not only ruining our health, but also dehumanizing the ways we live and relate to one another.

Over years of working with regional farmers, Waters and her partners learned how geography and seasonal fluctuations affect the ingredients on the menu, as well as about the dangers of pesticides, the plight of fieldworkers, and the social, economic, and environmental threats posed by industrial farming and food distribution. So many of the serious problems we face in the world today–from illness, to social unrest, to economic disparity, and environmental degradation–are all, at their core, connected to food. Fortunately, there is an antidote. Waters argues that by eating in a “slow food way,” each of us–like the community around her restaurant–can be empowered to prioritize and nurture a different kind of culture, one that champions values such as biodiversity, seasonality, stewardship, and pleasure in work.

This is a declaration of action against fast food values, and a working theory about what we can do to change the course. As Waters makes clear, every decision we make about what we put in our mouths affects not only our bodies but also the world at large–our families, our communities, and our environment. We have the power to choose what we eat, and we have the potential for individual and global transformation–simply by shifting our relationship to food. All it takes is a taste.

Priceless by Robert K Wittman & John Shiffman

Art history! Criminal justice! Local references! You could not have designed a book more specific to my interests. Priceless is essentially the Mindhunter of the art world. It follows Robert K. Wittman, founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Unit, through some of the most fascinating cases of his twenty-year career. All I need now is companion book telling me how to get this job!

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The London Times dubbed him “the most famous art detective in the world.”

In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.   

Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and Santa Fe, Miami and Madrid.

In this page-turning memoir, Wittman fascinates with the stories behind his recoveries of priceless art and antiquities: The golden armor of an ancient Peruvian warrior king. The Rodin sculpture that inspired the Impressionist movement. The headdress Geronimo wore at his final Pow-Wow. The rare Civil War battle flag carried into battle by one of the nation’s first African-American regiments.

The breadth of Wittman’s exploits is unmatched: He traveled the world to rescue paintings by Rockwell and Rembrandt, Pissarro, Monet and Picasso, often working undercover overseas at the whim of foreign governments. Closer to home, he recovered an original copy of the Bill of Rights and cracked the scam that rocked the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.

By the FBI’s accounting, Wittman saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities. He says the statistic isn’t important. After all, who’s to say what is worth more –a Rembrandt self-portrait or an American flag carried into battle? They’re both priceless. 

The art thieves and scammers Wittman caught run the gamut from rich to poor, smart to foolish, organized criminals to desperate loners.  The smuggler who brought him a looted 6th-century treasure turned out to be a high-ranking diplomat.  The appraiser who stole countless heirlooms from war heroes’ descendants was a slick, aristocratic con man.  The museum janitor who made off with locks of George Washington’s hair just wanted to make a few extra bucks, figuring no one would miss what he’d filched.

In his final case, Wittman called on every bit of knowledge and experience in his arsenal to take on his greatest challenge: working undercover to track the vicious criminals behind what might be the most audacious art theft of all.

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