December 2022 Staff Picks

Get ready to laugh, cry, cringe and share these recommendations with the other readers in your life

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
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I know, I know. Another Emily Henry recommendation?! But hear me out!

She delivers again in this slow burn romance. Nora Stephens knows she's not the romance novel heroine, she's the villain. She's the girlfriend the leading man had *before* he found his true self out in Small Town, USA, in a Hallmark movie plot. She unashamedly loves New York City, her job, and most of all, her sister. She doesn’t love golden-boy editor Charlie Lastra's attitude when she pitches what she knows will be a bestseller. Boom--instant dislike, agitation, and for us, witty, snarky, literary banter. In many romance books I can smell the small-and-nonsensical disagreement that stops the main characters in their tracks for 30 pages until they actually have an adult conversation and continue their happily-ever-after. In this book, Nora and Charlie don't have an unnecessary falling out; there's no harmful name calling. There's only their two realities and how it makes it impossible to be together. The characters are real and layered and human -- their backstories and motivations are just the right amount of descriptive. The plot and dialogue are *chef's kiss*. Perfection from start to finish. I love talking about this book so much that I even did a Book Buzz video about it, so if you enjoy it as much as me, you can watch the video to hear about some readalikes!

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
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If you’ve talked to me this year, you know this is a book I will not stop talking about!

A story involving a recently widowed woman, a man searching for his father, and my favorite character, a Giant Pacific Octopus.  Tova is a 70-year-old woman who works nights cleaning the local aquarium, trying to keep busy to cope with the tragedy she has experienced in her life. One night during her shift, Tova finds the aquarium’s Giant Pacific Octopus trapped by electrical cords in the break room, and surrounded by empty takeout containers. Returning Marcellus to his tank and saving his life, the two share an unlikely connection. A seemingly unrelated character, 30-year-old Cameron is searching for a father he’s never known to help him out of his financial trouble. Told from each of their perspectives, we get to intimately know Tova, Cameron, and Marcellus as their paths intersect and how unlikely friendships change each of their lives. Although there is a “secret” to be revealed, it’s one that readers can easily guess the answer to, but knowing the reveal doesn’t diminish it – in fact, it enhances it in a way that I was cheering for the characters to finally know the truth that Marcellus and I had pieced together chapters earlier.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
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LIsten on Libby/Overdrive

This is one that I wasn’t sure I would like, but I ended up loving it. But be warned! You need to be prepared to not agree with the main character’s decisions or even her thoughts! Let me explain...

Katy and her mother Carol are best friends. Actually, not just best friends – Katy truly believes that Carol is the one true love of her life, and vice versa. Taken right from the book is the heart of the issue that grated on me: “If your mother is the love of your life, what does that make your husband?” So when Carol dies just before their dream trip together, Katy is crushed. She decides to go on the vacation alone, and feels herself healing from her grief on the Amalfi Coast. But that’s not all she finds – 30-year-old, healthy Carol appears. Katy has her mother back, but discovers the mother she knew and this woman are completely different. While I had difficulty with Katy as a character, the vivid imagery of Positano and the food is what really sold me on this book. It’s the perfect armchair travel novel that will transport you away to Italy.

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian

Lifetime Passes by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre 
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Read on Libby/Overdrive

This darkly hilarious graphic novel filled with a diverse cast of characters delivers a surprisingly positive and heartwarming message. Jackie and her friends start a program to bring senior citizens to a local theme park to take advantage of the unofficial park policy: if someone dies on the property, the rest of their party is given lifetime passes. Spoiler alert: No gruesome deaths, but there is an injury that you might be happy about. 

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy 
Read on Libby/Overdrive

Readers will relate to this funny and honest graphic novel about a teen girl figuring out her identity. When Huda moves to a new town with a big Muslim population, she realizes she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She tries a bunch of cliques but doesn’t feel like she fits, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is.  

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
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This first book in a trilogy is a must-read for fans of paranormal romance. Joan’s perfect summer with a fun job and cute boy falls apart when she learns the truth: she and her family are monsters with terrifying, hidden powers, and the cute boy is a legendary monster slayer. Joan will have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself and her family.  

Loveless by Alice Oseman 
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For readers who are looking for a different kind of love story, this novel gives a refreshing view from an underrepresented identity. Georgia has parents who are still in love, two sets of grandparents that are still together, and a brother who married his girlfriend, but at eighteen she has never even kissed someone or particularly even wanted to. But in college she comes to understand herself as asexual/aromantic, and to capture the part of her identity that has always eluded her. 


Picture Books
Recommended by Marie Boleman, Head of Children's & Family Outreach Services

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
Read on Libby/Overdrive

Another great owl tale! Owl’s one wish is to be a knight. His small size may make this a challenge, but his nocturnal habits make him an ideal Night Knight. The savvy humor comes through in the text as well as the illustrations.  

Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette Ford 
Read on Libby/Overdrive

This gentle, loving autobiographical story also imparts some concepts about plant life cycles.  Frank Morrison’s (Coretta Scott King award winner) painted illustrations capture the characters, cityscape and lush garden beautifully. 

Night Lunch by Eric Fan
This tale features Fan’s signature rich, magical storytelling and includes a host of nocturnal animals who frequent a nighttime food cart. Together with stylized illustrations, readers will be transported to this other world.  

Chapter Books
Recommended by Kallie Schell, Children's Librarian

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson
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Anthony Joplin is finally ten years old! Which means he's finally old enough to play in the Spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant's friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he'll measure up to his father's expectations at the card table.

Then Ant's best friend gets grounded, and he's forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn't exactly who he has in mind. But she's smart and tough and pretty and knows every card trick in the book. So, Ant decides to join forces with Shirley -- and keep his plans a secret.

Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart...

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Read on Libby/Overdrive

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.

Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada Kelly
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Once there were 13 students at Fawn Creek Middle School, but Renni Dean moved away. The remaining 12 students have been together all their lives in their small factory town. Everyone knows everything about everyone. 

When Orchid Mason arrives from Paris, and slips gracefully into Renni’s place, the other seventh graders don’t know what to think. Fawn Creek Middle might be small, but it has its tightly knit groups—the self-proclaimed “God Squad,” the jocks, the outsiders—just like anyplace else. Who will claim Orchid Mason? Who will save Orchid Mason? Or will Orchid Mason save them?