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 Nancy J., Collection Services:

A House Among the Trees
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
   
This book begins after the death of Mort Lear, a famous children’s book author and illustrator, (part Dr Seuss, part John Green for the older kids) and the effect his death has on the people he left behind. Most notably there is Tommy, his assistant who spent 30 plus years with him. There is also Nick, the British actor who has been slated to play Lear in a biographical movie. Then there is Merry, the director of an illustration museum who is vying for the original drawings and manuscripts in Lears’s estate with museum’s future existence predicated on receiving these works. And finally, there is Dani, Tommy’s troubled younger brother whose path crossed with Lear in a most unusual way. Tommy , after working and living with Lear most of her adult life has been bequeathed a sizable portion of the estate as well as be given the trusteeship to oversee where the residual money and creative works will go. Much of the book is told in flashbacks, including Lear’s mysterious youth, as well as the childhoods of “Tommy, Dani, and Nick. The book is a tale of how these lives now interweave, and is told with suspense as well as some humor. Where do the author’s work end up? You will want to keep reading and find out.

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, Account Service Services:

The Space Between the Stars
The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett
   
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 Amy, Instructional Services:

Spoonbenders
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
 
Johnny Carson stole his Carnac the Magnificent from the amazing Telemachus family; Teddy the charismatic con man, his wife Maureen, a real psychic, and their three gifted children. Or, more accurately, Carson mocked them with his act after one disastrous night on national TV. This is the story of the no long amazing Telemachus family – or maybe they really are amazing! Frankie who tries too hard and almost loses everything, Irene who is afraid to risk anything, and Buddy, who lives in his own world. Or maybe he is more in the real world than any of them. This is a riotous and moving romp which includes the supernatural, the mob, love, teen angst and coming of age in one glorious tale!

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.