Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Staff Recommendations, Week of May 28, 2024

May ends, but our recommendations keep on coming. Here are our picks for the new releases this week.

Chris Lee starts us off with the new novel, almost a decade in the making, from City on Fire author Garth Risk Hallberg. The book is The Second Coming, and the rec is this: "If it's true that one person can never completely know another (stuck in each other’s stories though we may be), then Garth Risk Hallberg’s The Second Coming is a testament to all the desperate, beautiful ways we try anyway to bridge our divides. It’s a book about addiction and family, the bottomless black holes into which we spend our lives pouring love. It's about depression; the chasms between us and the chasms within us. But I would like to believe, and I think this book does, too, that there still might be moments when two souls collide."

Does Jen Steele continue her streak of picture book recommendations this week? Yes! Jen recommends Emergency Quarters, written by Carlos Matias and illustrated by Gracey Zhang. Jen says: "Emergency Quarters is about a time in Matias's childhood when his mother would give him a quarter to use for emergency pay phone calls. I loved the nostalgic feel of this book, and Zhang's striking illustrations give it a feel of a classic, yet it will still resonate with young readers today. This may even be a picture book kids should gift to their parents; either way it makes for a great story time."

Jen keeps it going with another great picture book recommendation - The Squish, written and illustrated by Breanna Carzoo. Jen says: "The Squish is a witty and charming picture book about a sandcastle who keeps getting squished over and over until it learns to dust itself off and try again. Carzoo's illustrations are simply delightful in this picture book about resiliency and helping others." Detail-oriented blog followers will note that this title and recommendation was original published in and then removed from last week's blog. The book was originally slated for a 5/21 release but then pushed to this week, and I, your humble blog compiler, did not catch this change until it was too late. Thank you in advance for your forgiveness for this oversight.

Over in the paperback releases, we've got Rachel Copeland for Hello Stranger by Katherine Center. Rachel says: "After a seizure leads to brain surgery to repair the same congenital condition that killed her mother, portrait artist Sadie Montgomery can no longer see faces. The pieces are there, but they no longer make sense - she can't recognize her best friend, her evil stepsister, her probably handsome veterinarian, or even her probably cute and definitely helpful neighbor - and she has scant weeks to paint a portrait in time for a portrait competition worth ten thousand dollars. Katherine Center does it again! She takes a condition that a surprising number of people cope with every day and turns it into a meditation on how we truly relate to each other - how do you recognize somebody, how can you trust your own instincts, when one major sense is taken away? You'll cry, you'll laugh, you might do a ton of research on prosopagnosia, and it's worth every minute."

Rachel liked this book so much she invited Center for a virtual event. Check out their fabulous conversation by clicking the video link below.

Speaking of Rachels - Jenny Chou is a big fan of The Rachel Incident, a novel by Caroline O'Donoghue. Jenny says: "Rachel is a college student, uncertain about love and friendship, and with a desperate need to be taken seriously. Her best friend is her bookstore coworker. He’s gay, which everyone around him seems to know, even in closeted 2009 Ireland. When a married English professor turns both their lives upside down, the results are messy and surprising, and the repercussions span years. The Irish setting makes the book feel timely in 2023 America regarding the social justice chaos we’re currently facing. How is it that Ireland has moved forward on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights while we’re backtracking? The Rachel Incident is the laugh-out-loud, clever, and sometimes cringe-inducing book we all needed in our early twenties to let us know that life would have its ups and downs during that long slog to becoming a grownup, but we’d end up mostly okay."

And those are our recommendations for the last week of May. We'll be back next week with new recs to kick off June. Until then, read on.

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