Book List, Staff Picks

New Picks to Kick Off Spooktober!

October is one of our favorite months here at Towne! While not entirely spooky in our selections, we do have adorably spooky headers for ourselves this month!

Fuzz by Mary Roach

Mary is back with her distinctive inquisitiveness and desire to understand the world around her. I laughed, I gasped, I went through all the emotions and more that I’ve come to experience with the reading of one of Mary Roach’s books!

Join “America’s funniest science writer” (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

What’s to be done about a jaywalking moose? A bear caught breaking and entering? A murderous tree? Three hundred years ago, animals that broke the law would be assigned legal representation and put on trial. These days, as New York Times best-selling author Mary Roach discovers, the answers are best found not in jurisprudence but in science: the curious science of human-wildlife conflict, a discipline at the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology.

Roach tags along with animal-attack forensics investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and “danger tree” faller blasters. Intrepid as ever, she travels from leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Indian Himalaya to St. Peter’s Square in the early hours before the pope arrives for Easter Mass, when vandal gulls swoop in to destroy the elaborate floral display. She taste-tests rat bait, learns how to install a vulture effigy, and gets mugged by a macaque.

Combining little-known forensic science and conservation genetics with a motley cast of laser scarecrows, langur impersonators, and trespassing squirrels, Roach reveals as much about humanity as about nature’s lawbreakers. When it comes to “problem” wildlife, she finds, humans are more often the problem—and the solution. Fascinating, witty, and humane, Fuzz offers hope for compassionate coexistence in our ever-expanding human habitat.

The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink

This book is awesome! It’s spooky and creepy and takes place on Halloween (a.k.a. the best day of the year!) what more could you ask for? The writing is crisp and snarky and sarcastic and hilarious, and makes you feel like you’re watching one of those classic Halloween Disney Channel original movies unfold. The characters are fantastic and the plot draws you in. THE HALLOWEEN MOON is a story you’ll never want to end!

From New York Times bestselling adult author Joseph Fink comes a wickedly fun middle grade novel about a Halloween-obsessed girl named Esther Gold, who goes out trick-or-treating for one last year, only to find her town under the thrall of a mysterious presence.

Esther Gold loves Halloween more than anything in the world. So she is determined to go trick-or-treating again this year despite the fact that her parents think she is officially too old. Esther has it all planned out, from her costume to her candy-collecting strategy. But when the night rolls around, something feels . . . off.

No one is answering their door. The moon is an unnatural shade of orange. Strange children wander the streets, wearing creepy costumes that might not be costumes at all. And it seems like the only people besides Esther who are awake to see it all are her best friend, her school bully, and her grown-up next-door neighbor.

Together, this unlikely crew must find a way to lift the curse that has been placed upon their small town before it’s too late. Because someone is out to make sure Halloween never comes to an end. And even Esther doesn’t want to be trapped in this night forever.

Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves

WW1 is often overlooked here in the United States especially when compared to the second world war. In Good-Bye To All That Robert Graves tell his story of his time in the trenches and shows us all exactly why The Great War was also called the seminal tragedy. Raw and heartbreaking I cannot recommend this book enough.

In this autobiography, first published in 1929, poet Robert Graves traces the monumental and universal loss of innocence that occurred as a result of the First World War. Written after the war and as he was leaving his birthplace, he thought, forever, Good-Bye to All That bids farewell not only to England and his English family and friends, but also to a way of life. Tracing his upbringing from his solidly middle-class Victorian childhood through his entry into the war at age twenty-one as a patriotic captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, this dramatic, poignant, often wry autobiography goes on to depict the horrors and disillusionment of the Great War, from life in the trenches and the loss of dear friends, to the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the absurdity of English class stratification. Paul Fussell has hailed it as “”the best memoir of the First World War”” and has written the introduction to this new edition that marks the eightieth anniversary of the end of the war. An enormous success when it was first issued, it continues to find new readers in the thousands each year and has earned its designation as a true classic.

Starfish by Akemi Bowman Dawn

This beautifully written YA contemporary romance follows Kiko Himura, a half-Japanese teen with a love for art with social anxiety and a narcissistic mother. She grapples with divorced parents, missing her childhood best-friend, and feeling out of place. But when her dream art school rejects her, it’s time for Kiko to create a new path. This is a story about the birth and death of dreams, the meaning of family, and discovering who you were meant to be.

A half-Japanese teen grapples with social anxiety and her narcissist mother in the wake of a crushing rejection from art school in this “stunningly beautiful, highly nuanced debut” (Booklist, starred review).

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig

A literary horror novel set in Pennsylvania? It was impossible for me not to recommend this book. Wendig does for Bucks County what Stephen King has done for the whole of Maine: he imbues our state with an inherently haunted quality; terrors roam in the abandoned coal mines, a serial killer sneaks through the countryside. And one boy, Oliver Graves, is an empath the likes of which this world has never seen. I LOVED it!

Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there.

Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures.

Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver.

And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic.

This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.

Contact by Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan’s only work of fiction is a deeply thoughtful and intelligent take on alien contact. Sagan writes from the point of view of Ellie, a female radio astronomer in the 1960’s, who discovers a message from an intelligent life source in space. This book puts the science in science fiction, while also exploring deep questions about the capability and readiness of humanity to be in contact with extraterrestial beings. This book may be a work of fiction, but I still felt like I got a unique and beautiful peek into the life and mind of Carl Sagan.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cosmos and renowned astronomer Carl Sagan’s international bestseller about the discovery of an advanced civilization in the depths of space remains the “greatest adventure of all time” (Associated Press).

The future is here…in an adventure of cosmic dimension. When a signal is discovered that seems to come from far beyond our solar system, a multinational team of scientists decides to find the source. What follows is an eye-opening journey out to the stars to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who—or what—is out there? Why are they watching us? And what do they want with us?

One of the best science fiction novels about communication with extraterrestrial intelligent beings, Contact is a “stunning and satisfying” (Los Angeles Times) classic.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Many people know of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but not many people pay attention to his wife, Zelda. Deemed the first flapper, Zelda lived a fast paced and exciting life. This book covers a fictionalized version of Zelda’s life, beginning with her meeting of F. Scott. Zelda will take you from 1920s NYC to Paris, from parties to cafes, and readers will get a better understanding of how close reality was mirrored in F. Scott’s stories.

I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we’re ruined, Look closer…and you’ll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler’s New York Times bestseller brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and shadow is a story of Mayan lore magical realism. Cassiopea is relegated to being a servant in her wealthy grandfather’s home because of her mixed race heritage. Everything changes when Cassiopea opens a locked box and releases the captured Mayan god of death Hun-Kame. Now they are intrinsically connected. Cassiopea must journey across Mexico to help Hun-Kame reclaim his divinity. This book does a great job of celebrating the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. 

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

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