Solano County Library Staff Picks


  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
I was enthralled by the beautiful storytelling in this reimagining of "The Snow Queen." Sprinkle in a touch of "The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" and a bright young heroine and you have an enjoyable fantasty.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 
  Tiny Furniture
This film is written and directed by Lena Dunham who won a Golden Globe award for her HBO TV series "Girls". It's largely an autobiographical story about a young woman fresh out of college and trying to "figure things out" while living at home with her mother and younger sister. Neuroses, insecurities, getting into relationships with jerky men--it's all familiar ground she's covering. However, the allure of the film is that it flows along so realistically that it seems you're just watching somone's actual life unfold on the screen. A very sure‐footed film that doesn't resort to familiar plot devices.
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 
  How to Cheer Up Dad
An amusing and sweet take on the different perspectives of a small elephant child and his father.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 
  Dearly, Departed
Here’s a very unusual classic romance, thriller, rip-roaring adventure, and macabre comedy all in one slim volume of a book. The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the mores of an antique era. Norah, who has debutante status, is certainly not interested in attending balls or have any interest in her country’s political unrest. But suddenly she is kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. She did not expect to align herself with a rebellion and fall in love with her jailer, but she does. He’s handsome, brave, noble, but also very dead; a zombie. She did not know her own father was a mad scientist. You will not believe the drama in this book! Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!.
Recommended by: Debbie W. Want it? 
  Gods Behaving Badly
What if Greek Gods walked among us today? You know, as actual dog-walkers and tv hosts and even one born-again Christian in a dilapidated house in London. Diverting, irreverent and off-kilter.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 
  The Dog Lover's Companion to California
It's that time of year when we begin to plan road trips and you might want Rover to come along with you. Take a peek at this useful book to see what beaches you might frolic on, hotels you can stay in, trails to hike, and where dog parks are tucked around the state for quick stops.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 
  Iron hearted Violet (audiobook)
Two unlikely heroines maneuver through a mirrored multiverse by nurturing hope, weaving stories and believing in dragons. Iron Hearted Violet received the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2013. Captivated listeners of all ages find themselves endeared to the beloved citizens of the Andulan Realms. The fantasy portrayed in this story is mesmerizing. One of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to this year.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
A quirky British farce. If you enjoy "Absolutely Fabulous" and similar English humor, you should definitely give this a try.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 
  The Great Gatsby(audiobook)
In “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald weaves a tale of decadence and betrayal. Set post‐WWI, Nick Carraway settles in Long Island in search of opportunities. Nick’s social group includes his affluent cousin Daisy Buchanan, her ruthless husband Tom, and the cynical Jordan Baker. Through a series of lavish parties, Nick encounters the enigmatically wealthy Jay Gatsby—who pines for Daisy. Nick soon learns that his new habitat is a breeding ground for shattered dreams. This book on CD is brought to life by Academy Award‐winning actor Tim Robbins’ narration.
Recommended by: Jonathan W. Want it? 
  Much Loved
There’s only one way to describe this book—absolutely adorable. Portraits of teddy bears displayed with name, age, height, owner and history are brought together in heartfelt nostalgia. From Pierre, a 9-year-old, 12 inch tall teddy from Paris to Eddie, a 104-year-old, 23 inch tall teddy bear representative from Dublin. Cuteness overload.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
  Juan Verdades : The Man Who Couldn't Tell A Lie
Each year Don Ignacio’s el manzano real produces the best apples around thanks to his diligent and honest capataz, Juan Valdez. When a wager is made, Juan’s honesty is tested. If he remains truthful, Don Ignacio keeps his ranch. If he loses, Juan’s empleador is no longer a wealthy ranchero with a beautiful apple tree. Love blooms over tortillas and coffee, families come together and a beautiful fiesta takes place. Juan Valdez is no longer just a capataz; he is Juan Verdades, ranchero and friend.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
  Surreal Lives: The Surrealists, 1917-1945
This book covers the Dada and Surrealist movements of the early 20th c. It follows the lives of the main artistic players and shows the friendships, affairs, marriages, and the many clashes–sometimes life-long friendships turned to ruin. The main man is Andre Breton, the leader of the movement whose style of leadership was heavy-handed and unyielding. Then there is Salvador Dali–what a very strange personality, some of his behavior suggests insanity. True insanity? Or was it an act? Or both? At any rate, the accounts of his behavior are sometimes hilarious..
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 
A quirky tale of middle aged superheroes, rescued super pets and peanut allergies. Dan Santat has illustrated books for Dan Gutman and Mac Barnett. He won the Society of Illustrators Silver Medal for Original Art in 2010. This is the first book Santat has authored and illustrated. Captain Amazing’s not-so-normal pets are adorable and a little mischievous. A great read for 8-12 year olds.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
  Almost Perfect
Logan, an athletic high school senior is depressed. His girlfriend of three years cheated on him. After weeks of self-pity, Logan’s depression is lifting. A new girl has entered his life. Sage, a six foot tall freckled beauty with a whooper of a secret. Sage is transgender, she’s a boy. Despite his initial reaction, Logan tries to understand Sage. He processes hate, denial, anger, disgust, sorrow and love. Almost Perfect received the Stonewall Book Award in 2011.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
  Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library
This book is absolutely hilarious. I was able to relate to almost everything the author said about working in a library.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 
  Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life
Middle school is not for Rafe Khatchadorian. Rafe, with help from Leonardo the silent, concocts a plan to break every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. For each success he earns points— pulling the fire alarm 50,000 points—run around the school in your underwear 100,000 points! Together, Rafe and Leo take on bullies, a mean future stepdad and pretty girls. A twist in the tale will flabbergast readers of all ages.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 
  Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind: Perfect Collection 1
From the acclaimed animation director behind Studio Ghibli films (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke), Hayao Miyazaki is considered a legend in the world of sequential storytelling. And if anything, this graphic novel proves it. Nausicaa tells the tale of a young, compassionate, warrior princess concerned with the survival of her small village against the looming threat of warring nations and the Sea of Corruption—a poisonous jungle filled with gigantic insects. As Nausicaa encounters these series of ordeals, she realizes the complexities of good versus evil, humans versus nature, and survival versus extinction. Like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, this post‐apocalyptic epic treats the fantasy genre with intricate care and detail—not only in the story, but in Miyazaki’s finely penciled and elaborate artwork. This is one book you hope will never end—luckily there are three more!
Recommended by: Ryan K. Want it? 
  The First Grader (DVD)
This is one of those inspiring movies where at the end you ask yourself, “Could I break the rules in order to do a greater good for one person?” N'gan'ga Maruge is an 84 year old man whose past is filled with tragedy, torture, and loss. He holds in his hands a letter sent to him. A letter he wishes to read on his own, but does not know how. After a radio announcement promoting that education is now free to everyone, he walks to the nearest school in order to enroll. Teacher and principal, Jane Obinchu, is puzzled by this man who wants to attend her primary school and turns him down daily. She finally gives in and allows him to attend her class, which begins a mission of her own--to stand up for this man while enduring threats from parents and backlash from the school’s administration. This film is based on the real N'gan'ga Maruge. It is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. A wonderful story to pass on to others.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 
  The Litigators
The clean, crisp writing is classic Grisham. Attorneys Finley & Figg, partners for 20 years, scratch out a living handling DUIs, quickie divorces and an occasional car wreck. In stumbles David Zinc, a burned‐out attorney who’s just gone on a bender and walked away from his fast‐track career at a fancy downtown firm. Acting more like the Three Stooges than seasoned litigators, Wally Figg convinces the other two to tackle a really big case in the hopes of making themselves fabulously rich without being required to actually practice much law. Funny and a good read!
Recommended by: Yvette K. Want it? 
  Dead Until Dark
This book is for all those die hard paranormal mystery/romance fans. I had to really think hard about whether to recommend the start of this series. Try to enjoy the pleasure of reading it and move on rather than totally obsessing over it for several years. Luckily, you don’t have to wait a whole new year for each new book like I had to. Oh and one more thing…when you finish the last book, resist the urge to throw it across the room.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 
  Remembering Whitney (eAudiobook)
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this title on eaudiobook. The reader, Robin Mills, did a great job sounding like she was Cissy Houston telling the story. I learned so much about Whitney Houston that I had never known before. For example, I had no idea she was such a philanthropist or that she was shy, did not like confrontation, and was a people pleaser. The book did a great job explaining the questions about how her drug use went unnoticed by her mother and how Cissy and family tried to intervene when they did find out. It was a great look into Whitney Houston's life, her trials and tribulations as well as her successes. It also really shows how her voice was a national treasure.
Recommended by: Nefertari G. Want it? 
  The President's Devotional: The Daily Readings that Inspired President Obama
Awe inspiring! Uplifting! It was interesting to read the historical anecdotes, bible verses, and commentary sent to our President every morning by his White House staff. These devotions were informative as well as spiritually uplifting!
Recommended by: Nefertari G. Want it? 
  Birdy (Music CD)
Soulful, sometimes ethereal, but always an ever-so-sweet feminine voice will make you want to press the repeat button each time a song has finished. Birdy’s debut album is filled with songs you’d probably think were her own, but all are actually contemporary renditions of lesser known hits. She’s so good that she makes old songs into new originals.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 
  Mrs. Biddlebox
This is my most favorite book to read aloud to children. It works out best if you can read it with the best cockney accent you can muster.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 
  The Story of Saiunkoku
I couldn’t tell you what I loved most about this series--each character’s tireless perseverance for their work, the reluctance to give in to love even when the most romantic moments happen, or just the overall story line. Any free minute I had I would try to read a little bit more even if I was waiting for someone to tie their shoe! I would give this series a rating of “totally addicting.”
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it?