January 2021 Staff Picks

Adults | Teens | Children's Picture Books | Children's Chapter Books

Time travel, space travel and toxic technology, Local History & Genealogy Librarian Michael recommends a diverse (and riveting) set of picks for Sci-Fi and fantasy fans.

Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch
Crouch is one of my favorite authors. These two lean a little more towards techno-thriller but both involve distinctly Sci-fi premises. In Dark Matter, Jason Dessen is kidnapped by a mysterious individual and wakes up in an alternate reality. To get home and save his family he must fight his way through the multiverse and battle…wait for it…himself!

Recursion is a time travel story, of sorts. In 2018, Detective Barry Sutton and neurologist Helena Smith must find a way of preventing a that ends in nuclear annihilation. The premise for this one is so mind bending, and things get so intense and apocalyptic, that I can’t say any more. Just go read the whole thing in one sitting!  

Ancillary Justice
by Ann Leckie
I am a little late to the party with Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy, but I’m so happy I finally picked it up. Ancillary Justice swept all the major Sci-Fi awards when it came out in 2013. This is a big space opera with lots of world building and a large cast of diverse characters. The story follows Breq who is actually the AI for the spaceship Justice of Toren in humanoid form, known in the series as an ancillary. Breq is out for revenge on those who betrayed and destroyed her commander, and it might mean the destruction of the entire Radchaai Empire. There’s action, intrigue, and larger philosophical ideas all at play. Everything that makes great Sci-Fi adventure!  

by M.T. Andersen
Andersen’s book is a dystopia set in a future where human beings have ravaged the environment, global war is imminent, but Titus and the rest of his teenage friends are too busy consuming the feed, a neural implant that most of humanity now has that allows a steady and unending stream of information and consumerism directly into their brains. While hanging out on the moon, Titus falls for Violet, who having not had it implanted early in life, sees the corruption, suffering, and malignancy of the feed. They attempt to rebel against the technology with not great results. Andersen’s critiques of how unchecked consumerism, corporate power, and endless environmental decay will eventually turn us all into emotionally hollow, lesion covered, Eloi (Time Machine reference!) are, unfortunately, just as on point as they were in 2002. It is dark, thought-provoking Science Fiction for people who don’t need a happy ending.  


For teens who love to read magical mysteries, Teen Services Librarian Maggie offers a list that is sure to make January reading extra cozy.  

by Tracy Deonn
Tracy Deonn’s phenomenal debut is perfect for fans of The Mortal Instruments – it's a modern-day take on King Arthur that’s full of Southern Black Girl Magic. Following her mother’s death, 16-year-old Bree enrolls in an early college program, but on her first night on campus, Bree witnesses a demon attack that no one else can see. When a teenage mage attempts and fails to wipe Bree’s memory, he unintentionally unlocks Bree’s magic and a buried memory surrounding her mother’s death. Convinced she’s found people who can help her uncover what really happened to her mother, Bree decides to infiltrate the “Legendborn,” a group of descendants of King Arthur’s knights. But with a magical war on the horizon, Bree must decide how far she’ll go for the truth.  

by Shea Ernshaw
Nora Walker comes from a long line of witches. Although she hasn’t found her magic, it doesn’t keep her from going into the eerie Wicker Woods like generations of her ancestors have done before. The Walker women have been known to find lost items in the woods, but when Nora finds a boy who’s been missing for two weeks with no recollection of how he got there, Nora is suspicious. The two work together to uncover what happened, but Oliver has secrets of his own — secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried. Winterwood is the perfect book to read by a fire with a warm drink and a blanket. Shea Ernshaw’s writing is atmospheric and will suck you right into the witchy woods. 

by Adrienne Young
If you’re looking for an adventure filled with captivating characters, look no further. Four years ago, after watching her mother drown, Fable was abandoned by her father on an island filled with thieves and little food. She manages to stay alive with the dream of finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. She uses her magical ability to find precious gems to win over the crew of the Marigold and barters passage on their ship. But once she finally makes it off the island, Fable discovers it may have been the safest place for her.  


Miss Cathy is back hosting Facebook Live storytime on January 11 at 9:30 a.m. Until then, enjoy a few of her whimsical picture book picks!

Picture Books

Little Bot and Sparrow
by Jake Parker
When Little Bot finds himself in a strange new world, Sparrow is there to take him under her wing. But when Sparrow soon flies south for winter, what will Little Bot do without him? Together, they explore the forest, share adventures and learn what it means to be forever friends.

There’s a Dragon in Your Book
by Tom Fletcher
The cutest baby DRAGON has hatched inside this book! Whatever you do, do NOT tickle its nose. ACHOO! UH-OH! Now you’ve done it! It’s going to take some stamping, blowing and flapping to save this book from Dragon’s sneezes. Join in the fun in this lively, interactive book.

Not Quite Narwhal
by Jessie Sima
Kelp was born under the sea to a family of narwhals. He loves his family even though he’s a little bit different. Swept close to shore one day, Kelp spies a mysterious creature that looks just like him. He discovers they are unicorns. Join Kelp as he finds a way to fit in, stand out and feel the love of family.

Children's Librarian Marie offers some attention grabbing hits for chapter book readers.

Chapter Books

Greystone Secrets: The Strangers (Book one) 
by Margaret Peterson Haddix 
The Greystone children learn of the kidnapping of three children who, it turns out, have unnerving similarities to themselves. They have the same ages, same names, same birthdays. Creepy! This first book in the series is more than a mystery. Otherworldly components and unexpected plot twists make this a compelling, satisfying read. Of course, the cliffhanger ending will drive readers to get the second one, Greystone Secrets: The Deceivers, immediately. 

Fuzzy Mud
by Louis Sachar 
Another Sachar hit! This author of the well-loved “Holes” and “Wayside School” series is a bit darker with this one but will suck readers in with the mystery and quickly developing plot. Tamaya and Marshall begin cutting through the woods to avoid the school bully. Of course, they run into another, more sinister kind of trouble there – mud that has taken on alien characteristics! 

Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior: An unofficial Minecraft Adventure (Book one) 
by Cube Kid (AKA Erik Gunnar Taylor)
This wildly popular series is bursting with humor, illustrations, and engaging plots. The main character is a relatable member of the Minecraft world whose author is a devoted Minecraft player.