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Staff Picks


Small Mercies
by Dennis Lehane

Set in the 1970s in the “Southie” section of Boston, impoverished single mother Mary Pat Fennessy encounters prejudice, misogyny, and the violence of the Irish mob in her determination to find her missing teenage daughter Jules.  The same evening Jules disappears, a young Black man is found dead under mysterious circumstances.  Seemingly unconnected, the two incidents eventually collide, as Mary Pat uncovers the truth about what happened to Jules.  With gritty, relentless characters and an unforgiving plot, this novel kept me on the edge of my seat.

~ Mary D.

A Conspiracy of Truths
by Alexandra Rowland

What can an old story teller do when accused and imprisoned on charges of witchcraft and espionage in a strange foreign land? The only thing he knows how to do – tell the right stories to the right people and hope to win the favor and mercy of the five leaders of Nuryevet who are determined to see him executed, or used for their own gain. Intricate, corrupt politics and intrigue combined with master storytelling will leave you rooting for a morally ambiguous, miserable old man caught in the crossfire, who can only hope that his craft can save his life, and perhaps even bring a nation to its knees.

~ Sarah

Unraveling: What I learned about life while shearing sheep, dyeing wool, and making the world’s ugliest sweater
by Peggy Orenstein

The title alone had me laughing and completely intrigued. With the backdrop of Covid and a woman whose life is changing in so many ways, this book really was a bittersweet read.

Peggy takes stock of her life. A parent has died and the other is not well. Her daughter is getting ready for college and things are changing fast. She decides to make a sweater. But not just any sweater. She wants to go from square 1 to the end and learn what it takes to shear a sheep, spin and dye the wool and proceed from there. The fun begins, but so much more happens as she takes this journey. Peggy explores what it is to be a woman who is aging in our society with the keen eye of a writer, humorist and thoughtful citizen.

~ Mary W.

The Justice of Kings
by Richard Swan

In The Justice of Kings, Justice Sir Konrad Vonvalt wields arcane powers and expert swordsmanship as he enforces law across the restive Sovan Empire. Teamed with Helena Sedanka, a skilled clerk, and Bressinger, their task man, they uncover a murder in a backwater town that unravels into a web of deception and betrayal. Swan’s creative choice to narrate from Helena’s perspective adds depth, although the initial pacing is dense. As the story delves into political intrigue, the narrative gains momentum, complemented by well-crafted characters and a simple, yet immersive world. A recommended read for enthusiasts of political fantasy and dark settings, promising a captivating series ahead.

~ Danielle H.M.

by Brandon Sanderson

The world has been ruled with darkness and absolute power by an immortal being known as The Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity.” Within this controlled chaos, the underworld’s elite have been gathered by a master thief and Mistborn, Kelsier, to plan one of the greatest high-stake heists of all time: stealing from The Lord Ruler himself. Then, Kelsier reveals his true endgame, overthrowing the evil being that has held the realm captive for centuries. 

I really enjoyed the rich character development, the incredible world building, and intricate magic system. The Final Empire by Brendon Sanderson is the first book in the high fantasy Mistborn trilogy. It gives off a Six of Crows meets Lord of the Rings vibe but the entire world is set in Mordor.

~ Jenny

Community Board
by Tara Conklin

Darcey Clipper’s life has gone into a tailspin; her husband has very suddenly and unceremoniously left her for another woman, her social life has evaporated, and her daily sobbing and inability to focus have led her boss to suggest a sabbatical from work. The old saying goes, “You can’t go home again.” Against her better judgement, that’s exactly what Darcey does: she packs up and moves back to her hometown of Murbridge, Massachusetts in hopes of nursing her wounds while she puts her life back together. But the old comforts of home are nowhere to be found. When Darcey arrives, she is surprised to find that her parents have moved to a retirement community in Arizona without telling her.

After a few months of self-imposed isolation at her parents’ house, Darcey joins the local community message board — filled with posts seeking lost pets, airing grievances, and offering free canned goods — in an attempt to re-acquaint herself with Murbridge and its residents. Her interactions with the quirky community members start small, but as her confidence grows, so does her connection to the community- both online and in person. When a proposed construction project threatens to tear the town apart, will Darcey retreat back into isolation, or take a stand and fight for the community of Murbridge?

~ Melissa