Daily Doses - Maggie Grant
I am the administrative analyst for the collection management team. I love working behind the scenes and digging into the numbers to help inform collection decisions. In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my two-year-old son and Zoom-ing with family. Lately, I’ve been drawn to works that make me feel like the author knows who I am; works that have me thinking, “How do they completely understand what I’m going through?” Bonus points for pieces that I can read in less than five minutes!
Khalil Gibran has a way with language that helps center the reader and, at the same time, remind them exactly how big the universe is. He reminds us that we are all connected and each of us has a role to play. The poems touch on many facets of life from marriage & children to freedom & faith.
John Kenney’s poems literally have me laughing out loud! Reading one or two of his poems every morning is a great way to start the day.
Maya Angelou’s voice (both literal and literary) will stay with you long after you’re done experiencing her work. I hope you read all the poems in this collection, but if you only read one, it has to be Phenomenal Woman. I walk with my head held a little higher after reading this poem.
Graphic Novels - Danielle Tarullo
Danielle Tarullo would like a coffee. At any given time, at any given day, she would like a coffee and book to go with it.
This endearing coming-of-age story challenges the reader not to make assumptions then rewards them with a heart-felt and funny tale. The title character feels like an outcast, so she seeks out someone really living on the margins to help her care for her rescued animals--the town witch! Of course, Snap and her supportive friend Lu learn there is more to who you are than what people call you. It is adventurous and spirited while deftly addressing issues of gender expression, generational trauma, single motherhood, and true friendship.
The villains aren’t that great and the heroes are even worse, but Nimona can be bad better than anyone! The plucky title character creates mayhem while her villain mentor tries to be there for her. This story is beautifully drawn and balances between being hilarious and achingly sad.
Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Andy Kubert
"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Super hero comics own the 20th century landscape, but this graphic novel asks what it would look like if they existed in another time. The style of the art reflects the time setting and the story keeps you looking for more. I loved seeing some of my favorite Marvel characters reimagined in this twisted timescape!
Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis, Illustrated by Brooklyn Allen
LumberJanes has everything! Adventure, comedy, intrigue, mystical creatures, and friendship to the max! The five friends at the center of the stories are relatable and easy to love. These are great for a little summer escapism!
Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
Everything by Brian K. Vaughan is good, but this is my bid for his best work ever. This is an outer-space, interplanetary, mixed species, subverted Romeo and Juliet anti-war story about family and it is dark, haunting, sexy, and intense.
Historical Fiction - Susan Hill
Susan has been with Chesterfield Library for over 11 years. She graduated from VCU in Richmond with a degree in Comparative Literature; Theater/Literature concentration. Historical Fiction and Fantasy/Magical Realism are favorite genres in novels, movies and theater. Besides reading , her biggest passions are performing & visual arts, travel and cats.
I love novels that teach me something I previously did not know. This novel takes place in Hawai’i more than a century ago. It is a moving story of the isolation, but also friendships and love, that was found in the leper colony of Molaka’i. Those who were fortunate enough to survive after a treatment was found had to adjust to a new and different world.
This is another book about a subject I previously knew nothing about! Set on the Korean Island of Jeju it tells the story of the fierce female divers in a culture where the women were the "bread winners", or in this case the "seafood winners". It explores the relationship of two friends over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and modern times.
This is a story of the friendship between a Japanese American girl and a Chinese American boy during the time of the internment camps in WW2 USA. I love books that show the power of love and friendships that transcends cultural differences. If you enjoy this book and my other recommendation "Moloka’i" you might also enjoy the sequel to "Moloka’i", titled "Daughter of Moloka’i" by Alan Brennert.
This book touches on my love of Art History. Many people may know about Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass windows and lamps from late 19th century New York City but what may not be known is that one of his assistants, Clara Driscoll, greatly contributed to many of his creations. After you read this novel you might want to go to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and see some of the actual pieces that they collaborated on together.
When I read this book in the autumn of 2019, I had no idea how relevant it would become. Set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, it tells the story of a family and city dealing with inconceivable tragedy. However, from out of tragedy blooms hope, love and healing.
Humorous Fiction - Barbara Ferrara
Barbara is an avid reader who loves to chat about books and authors with everyone she meets. She has worked at CCPL for 24 years and is currently manager of the LaPrade Library. In addition to reading, Barbara enjoys dogs and cats, genealogy, and classic rock music.
A furor erupts when a blogger suggests the government start paying a death benefit to the survivors of baby boomers who commit suicide by age seventy-five. When it becomes a presidential campaign issue, hilarity ensues. Those who enjoy satire can try this or any of Buckley’s novels. Similar titles are Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.
One for the Money is the first in a series featuring Stephanie Plum, a private detective in New Jersey, who always seems to get into a messy situation when solving mysteries with her friends like Lula and her family like Grandma Mazer. Read them all! If you like funny mysteries or New Jersey calls to you, try David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series, starting with Open and Shut.
Chick lit and romance novels are a great choice for readers who find humor in human relationships and communications. In The Kiss Quotient, and its sequel, The Marriage Test, no-nonsense Stella Lane takes an efficient approach to finding love. Other great picks are What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, by Pearl Cleage and Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie.
Non-Fiction and Biography - Jesse Dodd
Reigning CCPL Leader of the Year, Jesse is the Customer Service Supervisor at Clover Hill Library. He loves kids, sports, video games, and photography. His non-fiction interest range from biographies, military history, and politics (especially 1960-70s).
This 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winning Book deals with Thurgood Marshall’s work in trying to exonerate the Groveland Four. Marshall risked his career, as well as his life, to try and bring justice for the accused. It serves as a reminder of why we are still fighting inequality today.
How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
Author Michael Pollan explores the world of Psychedelics in his quest to understand their role in treating mental health. Pollan gives an unbiased account on the subject, which includes his own personal use as a way to gain a better understanding. It makes a strong case for where mental health treatment could be had the U.S. Government not made their use a crime.
I read this book in 2018, four years after Eric Garner’s senseless murder. Matt Taibbi gives an honest look at Garner’s life, both good and bad, and the tragic events that took place that day. Taibbi also explores the conditions that allowed this to take place.
Stephen E. Ambrose
My grandfather was a bombardier during World War 2, but passed away before I was old enough to talk to him about his experience. This book is a fantastic look at how our young men risked their lives to to ensure our freedom.
MLK Assassinated, RFK Assassinated, LBJ’s decision, and the 1968 Democratic Convention. These are just some of the major news stories that take place during this pivotal year in US history. Lawrence O’Donnell does a masterful job in covering the 1968 presidential election, covering each of these events and more.
Pages to Streaming - Ann de Witt
Ann is a librarian at Meadowdale Library and enjoys reading historical fiction, realistic fiction, suspense, YA, and anything relating to art and gardening.
I’m usually disappointed when I watch a movie or series that’s based on a book I’ve read, but Defending Jacob, now streaming on Apple TV, renewed my faith in screen adaptations. Starring Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery, Apple’s mini series stays true to William Landay’s legal thriller, a story of a Boston assistant district attorney and his wife who are faced with defending their teen son accused of murdering his classmate. Both the book and the mini series are binge-worthy.
This might not be the most uplifting title to read or watch during a pandemic, but I recommend Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, which is realized in a dark and well developed TV series on Hulu. Elizabeth Moss plays Offred, a woman kidnapped by a totalitarian regime that takes over the U.S. and is forced to serve as a Handmaid to one of Gilead’s top commanders. Flashbacks reveal her former life as an editor, mother, and wife, all stolen from her, but serve as reminders of what she and her fellow handmaids have to fight for. Seasons 1-3 are streaming on Hulu. Just like the title suggests this humorous story is all over the place while somehow remaining connected. The prophet named Bokonon invites us to sing along with him.
Picture Books - Caitlin Wilson
Hi, I’m Ms. Caitlin. I’m originally from New York, but moved to Virginia about 3 years ago. You might recognize me from Storytime, which is one of my favorite things to do at my job for CCPL. I hope you also enjoy my favorite books!
I love this book because it’s about unicorns and narwhals! The illustrations are beautiful, and the story is a cute story about not quite fitting in, but still finding your place in life.
Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen
This book is great when your mind is too busy and you need to relax. Each letter is a different breath, and each help to calm bodies and minds during stressful times. This book, though geared towards children, can be used with all ages.
This book is special to me, because my dad used to read this to me as a kid. He always promised to get the moon for me!
Religious Fiction - Lonnie Elliott
I have loved to read since I learned how in first grade! I have worked at CCPL for nearly twenty years and am currently assistant branch manager of the Bon Air Library. I read a variety of genres; my favorites include inspirational fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, suspense, and romance.
I “met” the author, Charles Martin, through a friend’s recommendation. He has become one of my “go-to” authors to recommend. In A Life Intercepted, the main character must make a tough choice: stay within the parameters of his parole from prison or do something that may help him win back his wife’s love.
The Story Keeper is the book that introduced me to Lisa Wingate before she became famous for Before We Were Yours. It won best contemporary novel from both the Carol and Christy Awards. The main character is an editor, Jen Gibbs, who returns to her roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC to find the writer of a twenty-year-old manuscript found in the “slush pile” of a NYC publisher.
Dear Mr. Knightley is Katherine Reay’s debut novel, and I fell in love with her writing. Fortunately for me (and you if you give her a try and like her also), she has written a book every year since her first. Dear Mr. Knightley tells the story of a poor English major who is given an unique opportunity to attend grad school from an anonymous benefactor; his only requirement is that she must write letters to him frequently!
The Sentinels of Andersonville is an historical fiction novel about the Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. Near the end of the war, inhumane conditions there caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only fourteen months. Three young Confederates and the nearby town of Americus must decide whether to show compassion and risk being arrested for treason or turn their backs on the prison’s atrocities.
Emily Jacobs is descended from Elizabeth Báthory, the infamous “Blood Countess” who tortured and killed hundreds of young women. Now she finds herself hunted for the sins of her ancestor by a secret society. I absolutely loved this book and was so pleased when the author wrote a sequel the following year, Firstborn.
Young Adult Fantasy - Ellie Edwards
Ellie is a librarian at the Ettrick-Matoaca branch. Working at the library is one of her favorite things, and she loves getting to do story time every week. She likes to read Young Adult fiction, and fantasy has always been her favorite genre. Besides reading, Ellie likes to take long walks, make music, and learn new things about the world.
The duology beginning with Six of Crows is one of my all-time favorites – it’s basically fantasy meets Ocean’s Eleven. All the best elements for a heist – including a specialized team of diverse characters - are there, set in Bardugo’s elaborate fantasy world. This book is action packed, and you’ll fly through the pages, falling in love with all six of the main characters as you go.
Blue Sargent is not a psychic, but she lives with four of them. Because of this, she knows that if she kisses her true love, he will die. This wasn’t something she felt she would have to worry about, until she meets Gansey and his friends from from the local prep-school. While the town Blue lives in is fictional, the book is set in Virginia, so the landscape will feel familiar to readers, as will the relationships that form between the characters.
Daniel Jose Older
Sierra Santiago is prepared to spend her summer painting a mural in her Brooklyn, New York neighborhood. That is, until walking corpses start showing up in her part of town and Sierra finds herself in a mystery of magic and power. The magic in this urban fantasy book is steeped in art, ancestry, and community. Older seamlessly blends Spanish and English in this first book of the Shadowshaper trilogy.