Staff Picks

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

Recommended by Khristian, Collection Services

Here and Gone
Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Called one of “the best debuts of the year” by Harlan Coben, Khristian recommends Here and Gone by Haylen Beck, a gripping, tense suspense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities. "I found this book to be really enthralling; I enjoyed the plot and the main characters were well written. I will definitely recommend to my family and friends to read as well."

Recommended by Kim, Collection Services

Two Lost Boys
Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson

Two Lost Boys is a debut novel by L.F. Robertson, a practicing defense attorney in California.  The main character is Janet Moodie, a death row appeals attorney.  She's called on by another attorney for her expertise on a case for client Andy Hardy, who is on death row.  Along with his brother, Emory, Andy was convicted of the rape and murder of two women.  However, Emory only received a life sentence.  Janet feels that Andy's lawyers missed some mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row.  Andy has a very low IQ, is very slow and shy, and Janet feels that he really wasn't the ringleader of the crimes that he and Emory are serving time for.  Through Janet's research into Andy's background, she unearths some deep family secrets and discovers what a terribly dysfunctional family he grew up with.  I enjoyed this story as I found the character very realistic and it was also a very fast and easy read.
Small Great Things
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This story begins with parents at a hospital to have a baby insist that one of the nurses be reassigned; they are white supremacists and Ruth is black. The hospital complies, but Ruth is the only nurse available when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, and her caution about rushing to the baby's aid leads to tragedy—and a trial. Ruth is aided by a white public defender, who's initially reluctant to make race an issue. I enjoyed this story because the topic is very timely with our country’s recent current events. Jodi Picoult grabs your attention from the get go and I couldn’t put this book down.

Recommended by Marcella, Collection Services:

In Sunlight or in Shadow
In Sunlight or in Shadow edited by Lawrence Block
 
This is an engaging collection of 17 short stories across a variety of genres, all inspired by individual paintings of the legendary American artist Edward Hopper. Well known mystery writer Lawrence Block, inspired by Hopper's atmospheric work, invited fellow authors such as Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates to participate in his labor of love. Reproductions of the chosen paintings accompany each story. If you've ever viewed a painting and imagined the story behind it, or just love a really good short story, this is a fun book.
Sycamore
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor

Sycamore is an emotional, touching exploration of the interconnections of small town life. The story centers on the sudden disappearance of seventeen year old Jess Winters, a relative newcomer to Sycamore, Arizona caught in a scandal when she and the father of her best friend develop feelings for each other. Chancellor brilliantly portrays the emotional fallout through the use of multiple points of view and time frames, from the events leading up to Jess’ disappearance until the mystery of her fate is revealed eighteen years later. Her vivid descriptions of place and well-developed, sympathetic characters draw you in emotionally as they struggle to deal with their roles in the tragedy.
The Spider and the Fly
The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe
 
 
The Spider and the Fly tells the intriguing story of reporter Claudia Rowe’s correspondence and prison visits with incarcerated serial killer Kendall Francois. The book is a product of Rowe’s decades-long quest, which began as an attempt to understand Francois and find the humanity inside even the darkest minds but ended up as an examination into her own obsession with the dark side of life (an obsession shared by many in a culture where both real and fictional serial killers often have large followings). Rowe shares her struggles and insights as well as how the process of writing the story changed her life. The result is part true crime investigation, part psychological study, and part memoir; all of it captivating and hard to put down.
I See You
I See You by Clare Mackintosh
 
Security camera footage has become an increasingly valuable tool in solving crime, but what if it were hacked and used to commit crimes instead? This premise underlies the creepy new suspense thriller I See You by bestselling British author Clare Mackintosh. Zoe Walker is absentmindedly leafing through a newspaper during her routine commute on the London Underground when she sees what she believes is her picture in a mysterious advertisement listing only a website and phone number. Her fears are dismissed by everyone except a policewoman who helps her unravel the mystery, leading to the terrifying revelation that (you have to read the book to discover).
American War
American War by Omar El Akkad
 
American Civil War is the poignant debut novel from veteran journalist Omar El Akkad. A dystopian novel, the story follows the fate of a family caught up in the chaos of a future America torn apart by climate change and a second civil war. The author’s journalistic experiences covering modern wars and uprisings lends a strong realism to his exploration of the devastating personal and social changes that result. This was a very well-written book and I highly recommend it.

Recommended by Lynne, Collection Services:

Nocturnal Animals 
 
New release DVD based on the book Tony and Susan by Austin Wright.  It’s a little creepy at the beginning in a no clothes sort of way, then scary and creepy throughout the rest of the movie. I recommend it if you are not too worried about getting a good night’s sleep…

Recommended by Tinetra, Collection Services:

Midnight Without a Moon
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
  
This story takes place in Mississippi in 1955 and is based around the murder trial of 14-year-old Emmett Till but, told from the point of view of 13-year-old Rose Lee Carter. The story begins with Rose’s mother moving to Chicago with her husband and his children; leaving Rose and her brother Fred with Ma Pearl and Papa (their grandparents). Rose was forced to quit school after the seventh grade because Ma Pearl needed her to work in the cotton field, picking cotton. Set in the Jim Crow South, there was racism, brutality, and victims of violence especially when the NAACP was trying to get African Americans registered to vote. People were killed registering to vote and then Emmett Till went missing and was later killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When I was younger, I remember watching a documentary about the murder and trial of Emmett Till, it was devastating. I didn’t quite understand what was going on at that time but, this story gave me a better understanding. The story made me feel happy, upset, and encouraged. It also made me laugh and cry a few times. The wow factor for me is the reason behind both Rose’s name and the title of the book, but in order to find out you have to read the book. The story was powerful and well written; it captured my attention at the beginning.

Recommended by Lydia, Account Services:

The Orphan's Tale
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
 
Sixteen-year-old Noa, forced to give up her baby fathered by a Nazi soldier, snatches a child from a boxcar containing Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp and takes refuge with a traveling circus, where Astrid, a Jewish aerialist, becomes her mentor.
Shadows on the Lake
Shadows on the Lake by Giovanni Cocco

A beautifully descriptive mystery that slowly unfolds. During road construction a body was uncovered as they were demolishing an old house. Stefania the police investigator became obsessed with uncovering the identity of the body and story behind his death. Great read if you are in the mood for a light mystery.
Before We Were Yours
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

For readers of The Orphan Train and The Nightingale, Lydia recommends Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours, a tale inspired by firsthand accounts about the notoriously corrupt Tennessee Children's Home Society. This is a poignant novel about a family brought up on a river boat in Tennessee with subsequent tragic and cruel circumstances tearing the family apart and away from the river. Years later the story is uncovered by the granddaughter of one of the children leading her on a journey through her family's long-hidden history.

Recommended by Laura, Instructional Services:

Lola
Lola by Melissa Scriver Love
  
Lola poses as the innocent girlfriend of a “Crenshaw Six” gang member in South Central Los Angeles. In reality, she’s the gang’s ruthless leader. Her life changes when she meets a four year old girl from the neighborhood. She makes it her mission to improve the little girl’s life. Lola is torn between being a strong leader to her men and being there for a child in need. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with a strong female protagonist.

Recommended by Sally, Instructional Services:

Two Days Gone
Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

What a well written suspenseful thriller about a murder in a college town!  The prime suspect in the murder of his own family is a well liked, best selling author and college professor who has gone missing.  Just when you think you have it figured out, the author introduces a twist and you are off again with new details and suspicions.  Adding to the intrigue, references to Edgar Allen Poe writings are woven into the story which help solve the mystery.  In spite of a brutally told story with graphic descriptions, it was hard to put this book down.

Recommended by Ellen, Public Services:

The Little French Bistro
The Little French Bistro by Nina George
 
Another engaging book by the author of The Little Paris Bookshop. Marianne has drowned in her marriage and decides to embrace the river. After being pulled out by a vagrant, she wanders from Paris to Breton, inspired by a painted tile to seek the sea. Having few expectations, she drifts into a job as a cook at a café where her lonely, generous heart finds purpose and appreciation. Will she recognize the person she is becoming as the person she wanted to be? This is beautiful story of a life regretted and redeemed. In some ways, it reminds me of Chocolat by Joanne Harris. When you’ve learned to settle for less than joy and friendship, sometimes it is hard to trust joy and friendship when you finally have them. A sad, sweet, hopeful story in a loveable little town with great characters and interesting local customs.

Recommended by Helen, Collection Services

The River at Night
The River at Night by Erica Ferencik
  
A high stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident.
Caraval
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
 
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett's father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. But this year, Scarlett's long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor who she has just met, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval's mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season's Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Recommended by Deborah, Youth Services

Marsh Kings Daughter
The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
  
Reading the Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne is a layered experience, much like tasting a fine wine. Top layer is a compelling, intricate mystery/adventure; the kidnapping/hostage plot could have been plucked out of newspaper headlines. Underlying that is the richly described natural world, almost primeval in its fecund, unforgiving wildness juxtaposed against the normalcy of a modern world, comfortable but complicated. Weeks later, one remembers both worlds, in stark contrast to each other, existing side by side and reflects on that fundamental dialectic.