Staff Picks

Staff members of the Boca Raton Public Library share some of their favorite books.

Recommended by Ellen, Library Manager

Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Another fantastic book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This is the story of a band in the 1970s and 1980s, told in brief interview snippets, and everyone from Almost Famous is here: The charismatic but casually self-centered lead, the solid brother on base, the partying drummer, the woman who just wants to play with a good band, the jealous guitarist, the groupie who has a great voice but just can’t grow up, the good and bad managers, and the rock critics. Interesting and amusingly nostalgic, I read this in four hours on a rainy afternoon. Highly recommended!

Recommended by Brianna, Account Services

On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

A beautiful title for a raw and honest novel of a young man’slife experiences from Vietnam to America. The narrator, named Little Dog, tellshis story in the form of a series of letters addressed to his illiterate mother.He describes a childhood wrought with fear and abuse with occasional smallvictories and good memories. 

While this book is described as a fiction novel, I believethere is a significant amount of truth in this book. Ocean Vuong builds a worldfull of cultural clashes, new experience, and heartache. The book takes placeprimarily in Hartford, Connecticut where Little Dog’s mother and grandmother immigratedwith Little Dog from Vietnam. Throughout the story, Vuong describes the abusehe suffered from his mother’s PTSD after the Vietnam War, the confusing buddingemotions of coming to terms with his sexuality and the reaction his family haswhen they find out, the attempt to assimilate into American culture, and thecoming-of-age experiences.

It is very difficult to find the light at the end of thetunnel for this book. His small victories seem miniscule in comparison toeverything else that happens around him. You want to cheer for him whenever hefinds a moment of happiness. 

The prose of this book is breathtaking, brutally honest andwhat you expect from a poet. Vuong weaves a world full of darkness with flashesof hot, searing lights burning through the pages. It’s a book that will leaveyou crying and reflecting on your own emotions and the power of unconditionallove for your family, despite how many times they have hurt you. 

D-Day Girls

D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose

An exciting book about the untold story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain’s elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory. D-Day Girls takes place in 1942, on the front lines of Paris, France. Three women are recruited for a secret agency called Special Operations Executive (SOE) – an elite spy agency filled with spies that are assigned to “set Europe ablaze”. This book introduces us to three of the 39 compelling women that took up the call to save Europe from the Nazis. We read about Andrée Borrel, a smart and witty Parisian that specializes in explosives, Odette Sansom, a depressed housewife trying to do better in the world. Finally, my favorite character, Lise de Baissac – a high society Frenchwoman and the leader of the group of 39 women, she is outspoken, educated and ready to fight.  

D-Day Girls is a poignant book, reflecting the horrors of Nazi occupied France while introducing us to the power of women during WWII. While this book is Historical Fiction, it is well researched using resources recently declassified including files, diaries and oral histories of the SOE.

Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King

The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn

This book was insanely entertaining. I don’t know much about Teddy Roosevelt but this book introduced a compelling and fascinating former president. I have the desire to learn more about him and the real adventures he went through. Teddy Roosevelt is portrayed as a super hero, which I have learned isn’t too far off. We learn the origin of the term “Rough Rider” and it’s an all around entertaining read with a recognizable cast of other historical figures during Roosevelt’s time. I had no idea how badass Teddy Roosevelt was.


Recommended by Kodi, Instructional Services

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

The Girls at 17 Swann Street, a debut novel by Yara Zgheib, is the kind of book you pick up and can't put down until it's done. It starts with Anna moving into bedroom 5 of a treatment center inhabited by women plagued with various eating disorders. I found this book to be unabashedly truthful, and heartbreaking as it drags you along the path of obsessive thinking, the need to be perfect, and a life that led Anna to this place to try to learn how to live again.

Recommended by Sally, Instructional Services

CrewelandUnusual

Crewel and Unusual by Molly MacRae

Kath Rutledge is the owner of a (haunted) yarn shop in a small town. As a new co-op of small shops prepares for its grand opening on Main Street, two vendors make accusations of stolen embroidery patterns and fake antique embroidered linens. On the heels of the unsolved murder of one of the town’s respected residents, an exquisite tablecloth is found cut to shreds and one of the two co-op rivals is found dead stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors from Kath’s store. Yikes! Kath and her needlework group, TGIF, “Thank Goodness It’s Fiber,” a group of knitters and amateur sleuths with some degree of success in "assisting" the local police solving difficult crimes, jump into action. With the help of “Geneva” the ghost who can only be seen and communicate with Kath and her shop manager, both murders are solved. This story is entertaining and intriguing. Anyone who ever lived in a small town will readily identify with the cast of characters in this charming "yarn" of a mystery.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

Confessions of an Innocent Man

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow

Debut author David Dow’s Confessions of an Innocent Man is a legal thriller centered on wrongful conviction and the lengthy, often hard to understand appeals process. Chef and restaurant owner Rafael Zhettah’s world is shattered when the wealthy wife he adored is brutally murdered in their home late one night and he is wrongfully accused. His alibi involves an affair, and the jury doesn’t buy his true story of an open marriage or the defense’s arguments that his DNA was present on the murder weapon since he lived there. His appellate lawyers lose appeal after appeal as he spends years in the harsh prison world, many of them on death row awaiting his execution date. When he is finally exonerated, he abandons his former innocent life and crafts a unique plan to seek revenge on the judges he felt kept him wrongfully imprisoned for so long due to their prejudice against their perceived version of him and subsequent stubborn unwillingness to examine his case. Dow, as founder and director of the Texas Innocence Network, is well informed as to the legal process, giving weight to the story’s legal aspects while Zettah’s plan for revenge creates an exciting read.

The Night Tiger

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

The Night Tiger transports readers to into the world of colonial Malaysia in the 1930s, with all its lush natural beauty, where local residents and foreign transplants interact among the tropical plantations and villages. Apprentice dressmaker Ji Lin moonlights as a dance hall girl to help pay off her mother’s mah-jongg debts. Meanwhile, 11-year old servant boy Ren adapts to life with a new foreign master while trying to fulfill the dying wish of his former master, a doctor who donated his lost finger to the hospital but who wishes to be buried whole due to superstitions surrounding the sacred tiger and its ability to sometimes take the form of a man. When Ji Lin comes into possession of the finger, their lives quickly become set on a collision course. The result is a fascinating juxtaposition of languages, customs, and beliefs, both ancient and modern, along with romance, suspense, and drama: all captured in Choo’s lyrical prose. This is one of the best books I’ve read lately and I can’t wait to go back and read her first novel The Ghost Bride.

Water Cure

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Sophia Mackintosh’s The Water Cure is a lyrical exploration of the coming of age stories of three sisters raised in isolation in a dystopian future world of environmental degradation, where gender violence has escalated dramatically. Grace, Lia, and Sky’s parents moved their young family to an isolated island compound years ago, where their only contact with the outside world comes from female victims who come to seek the family’s various, often brutal, cures. Their isolated routines are shattered, however, when their father disappears on a supply trip to the mainland and three strangers (two men and a boy) are washed ashore. The three sisters narrate their experiences as they are forced to confront the intrusion of the outside world.

Recommended by Lydia, Account Services:

City of Girls

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls is set mainly in the 1940's but spansthe main character’s, Vivian, life. An interesting look into the life of awoman who made different choices for her life than her parents outlined forher. Vivian is from a prominent family and leaves her prestigious schooling tolive with her eccentric aunt in New York City. Her life is changed forever fromthat point on.

Lost Roses

Lost Roses by Marth Hall Kelly

Loved this beautifully written historical fiction. One of the best I have read. The author took her time to research the time period well. Lost Roses brings you through the Russian Revolution and the hardships faced during that time. Sofya and Eliza met in Paris and though they are from opposite ends of the world their lives become entwined. Once I got to know the characters I did not want to put the book down. I look forward to reading her next historical fiction novel. I highly recommend this book.

Dreams of Falling

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Dreams of Falling kept me captivated throughout the book. The story is about 3 women who were friends since childhood and the daughter and granddaughter of one of the women who died as a young woman and how her death affected all involved. A secret unfolds as they go back in time to the 1950's. Beautiful story about friendship, love and forgiveness.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services

The Last

The Last by Hanna Jameson

After a global nuclear war begins, Jon Keller and a small group of survivors at a hotel in Switzerland try to maintain some semblance of civilization, only to discover the murdered body of a young girl in the hotel’s water tanks.

Library Book

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Reopens the unsolved mystery of the most catastrophic library fire in American history, the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire, while exploring the crucial role that libraries play in modern American culture.

Recommended by Nancy, Collection Services

Keep You Close

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland

How well do we know our children?  This is the central theme of the new novel byKaren Cleveland  who had a wonderfulsuccess with her debut novel Need to Know last year.

Stephanie Maddox is a single parent to her son, Zachary, thechild that resulted from a rape by a US senator she was interning with duringcollege.  She has raised Zachary byherself, never letting on who is real father is.  Nonetheless she strove to finish college andlaw school to join the FBI and become a department head. The book stresses thatmany times Zachary was left in the care of a babysitter or her mother while shewas involved in an all- consuming career.

So Stephanie is shocked beyond belief when she finds a gunin Zachary’s room.  Shortly after that,she is contacted by a bureau head who tells her that her son is now the targetof an investigation as a possible member of a terrorist organization.  She also finds strange and incriminating textmessages on Zachary’s phone.  Zachary’sresponses are all plausible, and Stephanie begins to conduct her ownunauthorized investigation into what she feels is a frame up by those who arepossibly within her own organization.

The plot twists and turns, as Karen Cleveland deftly communicatesher own sense of anxiety about her son and their safety.  And the ending will leave you wondering onceagain, how well do we know our children? 

Recommended by Deborah, Youth Services

Unquiet

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann

Linn Ullmann is the daughter of famed Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullman, but when she chronicles her childhood, her relationship with her father, and conversations she had with her father shortly before his death, she transforms the personal into the universal, she gives us the archetype Father, Mother, She, He, and Death becomes a character, as well. Although titled "Unquiet", Ullmann's style is quiet, dreamy, almost poetic, yet stark in its simplicity. One is reminded of a Bergman film.

The Suspect

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

Barton presents a disturbing story of two missing girls in a foreign country that could be pulled from any number of newspapers, any number of times, in any given year. Add the reporter, the detective, the mothers, a series of emails from one of the girls to her "bestie" back in England, and an ever ratcheting up tension, and The Suspect by Fiona Barton is a taut classic mystery written with an English accent. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Waiter

The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken

The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken, translated from the Norwegian, is a quiet book and just as still waters run, this book runs deep. The archetypal Waiter is the quintessential observer of his world. He describes in exquisite detail "his" storied restaurant, its odd mix of staff, its odd mix of patrons, and crumb by crumb, his own odd life, all interspersed with philosophical tangents about the modern world. Faldbakken sets a slow, even pace suggesting a timeless and tranquil world. It came as quite a shock to me when I realized that the book actually is set in our contemporary world. Gradually, the Waiter moves us from a feeling of comfort and ease to growing anxiety and unease, as his microcosmic world begins to change and he and it increasingly begins to spiral out of control. I plan on reading it a second time, it is that layered.

Recommended by Nicole, Account Services

The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

In Rebecca Serle’s “The Dinner List” readers are invited to Sabrina’s 30th birthday dinner. Every year Sabrina and her best friend Jessica have a tradition of going out to dinner to celebrate Sabrina’s birthday. But this year’s dinner is no ordinary dinner. When Sabrina walks in, she’s taken aback. Sitting at her table are the five people on her “5 people, dead or alive, to have dinner with” list. Sitting there is the best friend Jessica, college professor Prof Conrad, Sabrina’s father Robert, the ex boyfriend Tobias, and none other than the great Audrey Hepburn! Throughout the night they enjoy delicious food, and interesting conversations. Those interesting conversations bring back memories and issues of the past, happy and sad. This book is all about love, loss, the meaning of relationships, and forgiveness. Enjoy and eat up “The Dinner List” and maybe ask yourself, who would I want to have dinner with?

Recommended by Joleen, Instructional Services

Black Leopard Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf immerses the reader in an irresistibly complicated world of fairies, shape shifters, and other fantastical creatures, with a heavy emphasis on African folklore. Tracker has a nose for finding things, and when he accepts a job to locate a missing three-year-old boy, trouble has a way of finding him, and the story that unfolds is as wondrous as the world in which it is set. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a perfect mixture of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Marvel Comics, with a bewitching voice unique to Marlon James – you will not want to put this one down!