Staff Picks

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

Recommended by Kodi, Account Services

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

“The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.” Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik, is a very loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in all the best ways. Miryem is the daughter of a moneylender who is too kind to force people into paying their debts. Out of desperation, she takes over the job, quickly gaining a reputation for turning silver to gold with her wit and good business plans. Her success gains the attention of the mystical beings that live in the woods, who threaten her if she doesn't turn their silver into gold. Wanda is the daughter of a drunk who is given to Miryem to work as payment of the debt he doesn't have the ability to pay. Irinushka is the daughter of a noble who pours money into her dowry hoping to sell her off to the highest bidder. A common theme through the book is the anti-Semitism Miryem faces as a Jewish money lender. Each of the girls have a fate they must rise above to succeed in a world that wants them to fail. This book is beautifully written and fully engrossing. I found myself lost in the pages until the very end. One of the best books I've read all year! 

Recommended by Nancy D., Collection Services

Two Girls Down Book Cover

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

Two young girls are abducted from a strip mall parking lot and their family hires a well known bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to find them, Vega teams up with a former detective from the local police force and they go on a frantic search for the young girls. They go places and find connections the local police cannot. As they close in on the kidnappers, they are both relieved and shocked at who has committed this crime.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

November Road

November Road by Lou Berney

Lou Berney’s November Road is a multifaceted novel of crime, suspense, romance, life changes, and moral dilemmas played out during a road trip across 1960s America. Frank Guidry is enjoying a happy career as a valuable middleman in mob kingpin Carlos Marcello’s organization in his beloved town of New Orleans when news of the Kennedy assassination shocks the nation. Frank realizes that he is now an expendable loose end, as he had unknowingly dropped off the getaway car for the assassin. While on the run, Frank encounters Charlotte, who has fled her small-town life and alcoholic husband in Oklahoma to pursue long abandoned dreams before her two small daughters learn to abandon their own dreams. Charlotte has become stranded in New Mexico after running off the road and Frank engineers his way to giving them a ride to Las Vegas, figuring a built-in family with dog will help him disappear. In Las Vegas, Frank finds an avenue out of the country, but has fallen for Charlotte and her daughters and must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice for their safety, a moral challenge for a man used to caring only for himself. The novel captures the times, the scenery, and the characters in moving detail from beginning to end and is a great read that you won’t want to put down.

Indianapolis

Indianapolis : the true story of the worst sea disaster in U.S. naval history and the fifty-year fight to exonerate an innocent man by Lynn Vincent 

The book provides an intriguing, extensively researched account of the U.S.S. Indianapolis’ last voyage to deliver parts of the atomic bomb in the waning days of World War II and its subsequent infamous sinking, including detailed survivor accounts of the horrific days and nights spent in the water awaiting rescue. The second part of the book examines the multiple failures that led to days passing before the ship was noticed to be missing and the court martial of ship commander Captain McVay. His guilty verdict sparked decades of controversy as survivors and other supporters sought to clear his name, including Mochitsura Hashimoto, the commander of the Japanese submarine that sank the Indianapolis. The survivors befriended the authors and personally chose them to tell their story, which moved me to tears at many points.

The Family Tabor

The Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas

Cherise Wolas’ latest novel is an elegantly written,mesmerizing psychological study of the seemingly golden Tabor family. The booktraces the innermost thoughts of The Family Tabor in the twenty fourhours surrounding the Man of the Decade gala honoring family patriarch HarryTabor for his service relocating distressed Jews from around the world to PalmSprings. As Harry and his psychologist wife Roma welcome home their three grownchildren, lawyers Simon and Phoebe and social anthropologist Camille, wequickly learn that this seemingly golden family is hiding much inner turmoilfrom both each other and the world. Harry’s honor, however, stirs up awhirlwind of introspection, forcing his long suppressed memories of a pastmisdeed to the surface. As they all deal with the aftermath of Harry’s crisisof conscience, each family member’s inner dialogue reveals their own reckoningwith their fears, insecurities, past wrongs, lies, inner strengths, deep familybonds, and hopes for the future.

The Read Michael Swann

The Real Michael Swann by Bryan Reardon

The Real Michael Swann is a fast-paced, intensepsychological suspense thriller with an all too realistic terrorist attackscenario and well developed, nuanced characters. Julia Swann is talking to herhusband Michael, who is among an ever growing crowd of passengers in New YorkCity’s Penn Station as all rail service is suspended due to an intentionallyset brush fire along the tracks. Shortly after the call is abruptly lost, newsbreaks of a terrorist bombing and subsequent natural gas explosion at thestation that have left thousands dead or injured. A few hours later, reportsthat Michael may have survived and is being pursued as the lead suspect in theattack leave Julia stunned. Meanwhile, a man wakes up amidst the devastationwith a serious head injury, no memory, and Michael Swann’s briefcase clutchedin his hand. Alternating chapters reveal Julia’s desperate search for Michael,the man’s flight from vaguely perceived danger as he clings to a cell phone hecan’t unlock with Julia’s desperate messages across the home screen, andflashbacks to the couple’s not always perfect marriage. Julia’s psychologicalturmoil is palpable as she seeks to uncover just who the real Michael Swannis…or was. 

Tin Man

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman’s Tin Man is a short novel that packs an enormous emotional punch. The strongly developed, likeable characters instantly draw you into their world as they deal with passion, love, heartbreak, and redemption in all of their splendid varieties. The novel’s first half is told from lonely, stoic working class widower Ellis Judd’s perspective, sharing the story of his family life, thwarted artistic ambitions, and relationships with his best friend and early lover Michael and his late wife Annie. Ellis, Annie, and Michael shared a unique bond for years until a rift develops and Michael leaves for London. Ellis and Annie are left bereft, without word for years. The novel’s second half shares Michael’s story as related in his diary, including his life after his departure and his ultimate return to Ellis and Annie and their small town of Oxford. This is one of those rare books that had me crying at the heartbreak that life can bring while simultaneously relishing its beauty.

Recommended by Nancy J., Collection Services:

Need to Know Book Cover

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

This is a debut novel by Karen Cleveland is a former CIA analyst who has used her knowledge acquired from her years of work to create a realistic novel of espionage and suspense

Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst involved in the counter terrorism section of the agency. She is charged primarily with the task of uncovering sleeper cells, agents who have been planted here from Russia early on to obtain classified information by blending in with the rest of the American population. During an examination of a file on the Russian handler of these sleeper cells, she discovers shocking information pertaining to Matt, her husband of ten years, information that simply upends her whole world!

How Vivian chooses to handle this information and what she, Matt and their four young children become exposed to as a result of what she does takes you down a very twisted road  which places her and her family in a great deal of danger. Karen Cleveland manages to keep you at the edge of your seat as to what will happen and whether Vivian can ever restore her normal family life. The ending will simply astound you.

Recommended by Lydia, Account Services:

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.

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White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

Having spent her entire youth under Japanese occupation, a young woman in World War II-era Korea follows in her mother's footsteps as an elite female diver, only to be forced into prostitution to save her beloved younger sister. This was a beautifully written debut novel albeit a difficult subject, an eye opener and I learned a lot through the story.  I look forward to reading more of her future books.

We Were Strangers Once Book Cover
We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter

Fascinating book since this was written from a different perspective compared to other World War ll books.  The characters who are Jewish escape Germany as things start to get difficult for Jews in Europe before the war actually begins. They come to America and the book shows the difficulties they faced as immigrants here. The book starts with their family history so it gives you a sense of who they were before and what they had to sacrifice as immigrants.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services

Lying in Wait

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

A psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed. My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it. On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life--wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia's son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

The Misfortune of Marion Palm Book Cover

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton

A wildly entertaining debut about a Brooklyn Heights wife and mother who has embezzled a small fortune from her children's private school and makes a run for it, leaving behind her trust fund poet husband, his maybe-secret lover, her two daughters, and a school board who will do anything to find her.  Told from the points of view of Nathan, Marion's husband, heir to a long-diminished family fortune; Ginny, Marion's teenage daughter who falls helplessly in love at the slightest provocation; Jane, Marion's youngest who is obsessed with a missing person of her own; and Marion herself, on the lam--and hiding in plain sight.

Recommended by Tinetra, Collection Services

A False Report Book Cover

A False Report by T. Christian Miller

Marie is a 18 year old foster child from Washington. Marie is the young lady who’s a victim of rape. Marie reported that she was raped but, no one believed her story not even her foster mother or close friends. Since, no one believed Marie’s story about being raped; she told the police that she made-up the story. Then, Marie was charged with making false accusations. The story starts to alternate between the events of Marie’s rape investigation and several years later in Colorado when other rape investigations takes place. The police starts to tie-in the newer crimes back to what happened with Marie in 2008. As the start putting the clues and patterns of the serial rapist, they realize that it’s the same guy that raped Marie. The police finally finds the serial rapist which is Marc O’Leary. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. The story is very descriptive about how the victims were raped and how the rapist looked and behaved. The story gives valuable information about understanding the rape reports, crime investigations, legal history and the police procedures of the rape cases. This is an eye-opener because brings awareness to the history of what rape victims go through and the unfair justice system. My heart was broken many times as I read about what happened to these rape victims. I know how it feels because I’m a survivor.

Recommended by Deborah, Youth Services

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.

Beautiful Music

Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian

Zadoorian gives us a coming of age story, Detroit style, set in the 1960's. Music, specifically Rock music with a capital R, is as much a character in this story as is Danny Yzemski, the boy who eschews fresh air and buries himself in his basement, assembling model cars. After his father dies suddenly and his mother disappears into alcohol and pills, Danny negotiates his way through his world, holding onto music, late night radio, and his music magazines, Creem, Crawdaddy, and Rolling Stone, among others. Danny encounters twists and turns, potholes, and speedbumps in his path but he keeps moving forward, all the while listening to his Iggy Pop, his Jimi Hendrix and focusing on his dream to be a late night radio D.J.

The Ensemble

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

The ensemble in this novel is in fact, a chamber music quartet comprised of four exceptionally talented and ambitious and unique musicians who meet at the very start of their careers, recognize in each other a  passion for the music as well as the potential for success on the concert stage, and throw in their lot with each other. We get not only four fascinating life stories, but what feels like a backstage pass into the rarified world of classical chamber music.

Recommended by Brenda, Collection Services

Brass Book Cover

Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Told in biting parallel narratives, the stories of a Lithuanian immigrant waitress and her illegitimate daughter follow the former's struggles to secure a better life and the latter's determined efforts to connect with the father she never knew.

I liked the mundane details (such as store names and brand names), the humor, and the structure of parallel mother/daughter stories.  Highly recommend.

Recommended by Michel, Instructional Services

Silence of the Girls

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

I adore re-tellings and historical fiction, so I was immediately drawn to Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls. This novel was so much more than I imagined it would be. Following the point of view of Briseis, this story tells the tale of the Trojan War from the eyes of a young queen who is taken from her city and is claimed as Achilles' prize for conquering her homeland. This is what sets up the gruesome and raw tale of this explosive war that so many have read about but has never been shown exclusively through the eyes of a woman.

The story shows both Achilles' brutality, as well as the horrors of the Trojan War. Because we see most of the story told from Briseis' perspective, we are witness the mistreatment of the other women in the camp, the barbaric acts of the Greek warriors, and the shock waves of the war and how it changes each person fighting on both sides. This is definitely a darker retelling that isn't for everyone, but it is eye-opening to see the blatant mistreatment and objectification of women in a war-like-setting. It makes the reader reflect and feel of the conditions of the characters forced to be in the middle of this conflict in history.

If you're a fan of The Song of Achilles or The Iliad, you'd most definitely fall in love with this haunting tale that I still think about, weeks after finishing the novel. It mixes the horrors of war, the mistreatment of women, and the awe-inspiring strength of Briseis into an unforgettable story.

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?

Ghosted

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Have you ever met someone, had greatchemistry, saw a future with them, and then all of a sudden that person dropsoff the face of the planet?  Sarah, during a trip back home meetsEddie at a bus stop, totally unexpected.  They decide to grab somebeers and get to know one another.  They develop an amazingconnection and proceed to spend the next 5 days together.  Withinthat time span, Sarah has fallen in love with Eddie and felt more for him in 5days than she ever felt for her ex-husband in 17 years.  Eddie is theone she wants to spend her forever with, and Eddie says thesame.  Their forever can start once Eddie gets back from holiday butonce Eddie leaves, Sarah doesn’t hear back from him.  Eddie “ghosts”her; no phone call, no Facebook messages, or texts, he'sdisappeared.  Sarah is sure something has happened to him because shedoesn’t believe that someone like him can do something likethat.  Sarah can’t let go of Eddie and will do just about anything tofind out what has happened to the love of her life.  Did somethinghappen to Eddie or did Eddie just lead Sarah on and completely ghosther?  Read and enjoy this great new novel!"

Intermission

The Intermission by Elyssa Friedland

Cass and Jonathan are the picture perfect couple; it’s as ifthey were picked from a catalog. They’re beautiful, young, well offfinancially, and most importantly, happy. Anyone looking at them would notthink anything was wrong with their marriage. But after 5 years of marriage,little problems (like snoring or packing the dishwasher wrong) start gettingbigger and bigger and secrets start taking a toll. After having enough, Cassdecides she and Jonathan need a six-month break, or in other words, an “intermission”,from each other to see if life is better apart of if they are truly meant to betogether. Jonathan lives his life in New York, while Cass moves to LA to tryand make sense of her life and their marriage. Will they decide to throw in thetowel and go their separate ways or will they fight for their marriage and workthings out? You’ll have to read Elyssa Friedland’s new novel to find out!