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Staff Picks

February/March

Into the Forest: a Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love
by Rebecca Frankel

This true account of the Rabinowitz family, who were forced to flee their Polish town to escape the Nazi occupation in 1942, is thrilling, inspiring, and uplifting. Defying all odds, Miriam and Morris Rabinowitz, their two small daughters, and several relatives survived in the hazardous Bialowieza Forest for two years by tunneling underground, foraging for food, suffering illness, and escaping Nazi raids, until they were liberated by the Red Army.  Many years later, Miriam is reunited with Philip, a young boy she kept safe from the Nazis by pretending to be his mother.  Phillip falls deeply in love with Miriam’s daughter Ruth and they eventually marry.  A true testament to the bravery and triumph of the human spirit, this book is not to be missed.

~ Mary


Making It So
by Patrick Stewart

The long-awaited memoir from the beloved actor who brought to life the iconic characters of Professor Xavier, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Captain Jean Luc Picard.  Patrick chronicles his eight decades of life from a tough childhood in northern England, to tirelessly hustling to become a theater actor, to becoming one of today’s biggest stars.  This meandering memoir is interspersed with anecdotes, both profound and humorous, this book reads like you are in his sitting room sharing a cup of tea (Earl Grey, hot) while catching up with an old friend.  Sir Patrick reads the audiobook himself with all the gravitas of his many years of Shakespearian theater, making for a truly outstanding experience.

~ Lisa


Based on a True Story
by Norm Macdonald

Taking “auto” and “biography” to their satirical limit, Norm and his not-so-ghostly ghostwriter (writers that credit their works to others) bring you anecdotes that can only be described as “based on a true story.”  The non-linear biography at its core tells the tale of Norm Macdonald, a comedian indebted to a bookie he cannot possibly pay, and his dazzlingly innocent and long-time sidekick Adam Egat, as they attempt to win big one last time – in Norm’s eyes, at least.  Perhaps.  Chapters weave into his past, as a child in Canada, to his time in New York on Saturday Night Live, including a stint in prison for stalking comedian Sarah Silverman (maybe); granting a wish to a child with a very unique request (if he is to be believed); having the filming of his movie thrown into chaos as his buddy is suspected of several murders in Canada (which may or may not have happened); and the odd trappings that come with celebrity.

Norm tells you in the title of this book that it is based on truth, and he pulls no punches with that sentiment.  Too much truth for fiction, too much fiction to be a true autobiography, this one is best read with an open mind.  The work is a great reflection of his dry but deceptively earnest comedy style, one that is sorely missed since his passing in 2021.  It’s a strange journey from start to finish, but you will be glad you took the trip with Norm and Adam.

~ Danielle S.


The Water Outlaws
by S. L. Huang

A problem isn’t a problem if it doesn’t affect you personally, is it? That is what Lin Chong thought until one very powerful man decided to forever change her life and show her that ignoring problems does not make those problems non-existent. Forced to choose between fleeing and joining a criminal organization or dying for a crime she didn’t commit, Lin Chong is forced to quickly reconcile her own morals while grappling with the fact that nothing is as it seemed within the empire she served so loyally for many years. She must team up with the ragtag Liangshan Bandits, a group of women, the downtrodden, and revolutionaries, to protect the people she loves and perhaps the whole of the empire from the clutches of power-hungry government officials, or die trying.

Inspired by classic martial arts literature, this story reads like a Chinese fantasy martial arts movie and tackles themes of government corruption, power abuse, and challenging gender roles in society. Complete with epic fight scenes and world-ending, god-like powers, Water Outlaws is a rather dark and unique story.

~ Sarah


The Warm Hands of Ghosts
by Katherine Arden

Laura Iven’s life has been marked by loss: her parents, her home, and most recently, the apparent death of her brother. After her discharge from the medical corps in January 1918, Laura returns to Halifax, leaving her younger sibling, Freddie, still entrenched in the overseas war. However, when she receives news of Freddie’s demise in battle, along with his belongings, discrepancies emerge, and whispers suggest that he might yet be alive. L aura embarks on a journey back to Belgium as a volunteer at a private hospital. Among the wounded soldiers, there are hushed tales of a mysterious violinist whose music tells tales, and wine offers the solace of forgetting. Determined to unravel the mystery of her brother’s fate, Laura delves into the possibility that he may have fallen victim to something far stranger than the horrors of war.

The Warm Hands of Ghost is a hauntingly beautiful narrative, intricately woven through the perspectives of Laura and Wilfred Iven. In typical Katherine Arden fashion, the prose is stunningly crafted, drawing readers into a poignant and compelling journey. Its strength lies in its vivid portrayal of dark and intense scenes, immersing readers into the grim reality of war’s devastation. While not a traditionally “enjoyable” read, the novel’s depth and careful treatment of its weighty themes are deeply appreciated. Despite its slower pace, which some may find challenging, I found it to be a deliberate choice that allowed for deeper reflection and immersion in the narrative’s complexities. Arden’s skillful execution ensures that this atmospheric tale will linger in readers’ minds long after they’ve turned the final page, making it a must-read for her loyal fans and anyone seeking an emotionally resonant story.

~ Danielle H.


Fourth Wing
by Rebecca Yarros

Violet Sorrengail had trained her whole life to be a master scribe, surrounding herself with books and ancient tomes. Her life goals were uprooted when her mother, the Commanding General of Basgiath War College, ordered her into the brutal and deadly Rider’s Quadrant. All the odds were stacked against her: her obvious lack of training, a chronic illness that left her bones easily breakable, remorseless dragons ready to burn a cadet alive if they even so much as looked in their direction, and her fellow cadets who had an unhealthy amount of bloodlust and desire to prove themselves. Would Violet even survive past Conscription Day?

I really enjoyed learning about a magic system that’s tied to dragons along with the character development. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros is the first book in the fantasy series, with the second book, Iron Flame, having been recently released. It gives off the vibe of a Harry Potter (but in college) and How to Train Your Dragon crossover, but with more violence and an overall adult tone.

~ Jenny