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Below are the staff picks from 2020.

2020 Staff Picks

Current Staff Picks

Holly McLain

Adult Services  |  February 2020

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
There are several books by Jane Austen that I enjoy, but this is my favorite.  I first discovered this book in the school library (LEMS) when I was in Junior High.


2. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
This book was also discovered in the LEMS library.  Although, I have not returned to this book as often as other books it remains a favorite.  This was the book that made me realize I love a book that interweaves a good story with history, legends and facts.


3. The Sword of Truth by Gilbert Morris
This is the first book in the Wakefield Dynasty, a generational saga with Elizabeth I, William Tyndale, the nobility, the lower-classes, romance, and christian beliefs.


4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
This is the 4th in the Harry Potter series, but my favorite.  


5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Over the years I have read this book many times to all six of my nieces and nephews.

Below are some of my all time favorite books.  These are books that I have read multiple times over the years.  Sometimes I will return to one of the books, and only read part of the book, and other times I will listen to an audio version to experience the book in a different way.  These books always take me to the world created in the book and remind me of that time in my life when I first picked up the book.

Rebecca Bowman

Library Assistant  |  April 2020

1.   A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
When Lady Constance Morrow finds herself kidnapped and bound for the American colonies, she's sure she'll find a reasonable man who'll believe her story and send her back to England. Instead, she's "bought" by farmer Drew O'Connor. Constance is everything Drew despises in a wife, she can't cook and she prefers mathematical equations to cleaning. Worst of all she has red hair!!  


2.   Danger In The Shadows by Dee Henderson
Sara is terrified. She's doing the one thing she cannot afford to do: fall in love with former pro-football player Adam Black, a man everyone knows. Sara's been hidden away in the witness protection program, her safety dependent on staying invisible—and loving Adam could get her killed!  


3. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love is my most favorite book. This is a powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea. A story of God’s unconditional love.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally.    


4.  Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake
Stranded in America and penniless, Britisher Lady Sydney Hathwell contacts a relative in Texas, who mistakes her male-sounding name and invites his "nephew" to his ranch, but, appalled when she arrives, "Big Tim" Creighton is determined to turn Fancy Pants Hathwell into a man before the boss returns home.    


5.   A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past. - Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.      

Kathy Baker

Interlibrary Loan  |  March 2020

This is a list of some of my favorite books:

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1. Defending Jacob (2012) by William Landay
This is one of those books that you don't forget. It's a Legal Thriller that tells the story of a father dealing with the accusation that his 14 year old son is a murderer. I am really looking forward to the movie that is coming out April 24, 2020!


2. One Day in December by Josie Silver
Do you believe in love at first sight? I ordered this book for a ladies book club at work. There was one left over and I thought it sounded good. This book is about female friendship being as important as romantic love


3. A Man Called Ove (2012) by Fredrik Backman
This was recommended to me by my 85 year old Aunt in California. It's funny, sad and just might make you relate differently to the cranky/difficult people in your life


4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This was recommended by two sister in laws and my niece. It's about a young girl that basically grows up alone in the wild marshlands after being abandoned by her family. And I do love a surprise ending!  


5. Little Women by Louisa Mae Alcott
This is a great classic and after you read the book, I highly recommend watching the new "Little Women" movie that is out now. It's a great way to bring them all to life again.

Jennifer Keagle

Collection Development  |  May 2020

1.   Where the Crawdad's Sing by Delia Owens
This book was recommended to me by multiple people.  I love a good “who done it” book. This is now my most favorite book!


2.   The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book is a historical fiction set in France during the Nazi invasion. I like how this book shows the strength of the women living in this time.  


3. The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar
This is a historical fiction set during WWII with some romance woven throughout.  This book talks about a piece of history that is not highlighted very often.  I learned about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) because of this book.  It is inspiring to me because of the amount of courage these women pilots had during such a difficult time.


4.   The Montana Rescue Series by Susan May Warren
I really enjoy this series because it is easy to read and is a clean read. It’s romance and suspense all in one. I enjoyed reading from all the characters different viewpoints in this series.


5.   Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
This book is great for women looking to be motivated. If you feel like you are in a slump and are feeling bad about not being able to do everything for everyone all the time, this book is for you! I highly recommend the audio version.  She is hilarious!


Danielle Folsom

1.  Dee Henderson
She is the first author I read in the "Inspirational Romantic Suspense" genre and I read through her books quickly and couldn't wait for more.


2.  Irene Hannon
Started reading her books from a recommendation that she was similar to Dee Henderson. Fell in love with her books and it could be said she is my "favorite living author"


3. Mary Higgins Clark
She is one of the first mystery writers that I read. I started one of her books that I found on a free shelf somewhere and could not put it down! I quickly "binged" through all the books she had written. I was very sad that she passed away this year.


4.  Harry Potter Series
This is a series that I will ALWAYS go back to when I need a good book to read.


5.   Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos
I read this book before becoming a foster/adoptive mother and it could not have been a more perfect representation of what it is like to, very suddenly, become a mom. It was sad, funny, and poignant.

Interlibrary Loan  |  June 2020

Library Director  |  July 2020

Kiersten Allen


You’ve seen Will Smith’s evolution of hip hop, right? Consider this the evolution of Kiersten’s reading interests. My brother says the books you’ve read over the years are like a map of your life. So, here’s my map.

My first favorite book was Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells.  I ordered it from the Scholastic book order in first grade. I carried the tiny paperback with me everywhere I went. It even spent the night in the rain on at least one occasion, so it’s pretty gnarly, to say the least. And yes, I still have it. I met Rosemary Wells at an American Library Association conference several years ago in New Orleans. She re-published the book with new illustrations and just like a movie remake, the original is better. Sadly, she was not nearly as impressed with my fan girl story as I’d hoped she’d be. I got her autograph and had my picture taken with her, regardless.


My next favorite was probably The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo by Judy Blume, another Scholastic purchase. One of the lasting lessons my father taught me is, “There will always be enough money for books.” (patience, please...I haven’t gotten to my love of the library yet) You can’t go wrong with Judy Blume and the juxtaposition between The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is fascinating. Each has its place in human development.


From there I went straight to every Ramona Quimby book ever written, starting with Beezus and Ramona, although I think my favorite is Ramona Quimby, Age 8. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Beverly Cleary series, Ramona is the Junie B. Jones of the 80s. Shortly after my love for Ramona began, I went through some trauma in my life and came out the other side wanting to read every heart-wrenching story of any young woman going through some debilitating episode, and through all of our tears, she miraculously makes some kind of incredible recovery or period of growth. If you read those late 80s love/death/disease recovery stories, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Would she ever dance again?? But of course!!! Etc. Throw in Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden, which are classics and much better written, and you get my drift—the concept is the same.


The Girls of Canby Hall by Emily Chase. Oh my. Middle school angst at its finest. A series about frenemies at an all-girls school with a little romance and mystery thrown in for good measure. They’re out of print, but you can find a Ramona Quimby book at any library or bookstore anywhere, just sayin’. It was about that time that I fell in love with the library. And yes, it had a card catalog. I would literally just pull a bunch of books and read them. I browsed the shelves like the Parsons Public Library was a bookstore and I graduated myself from the youth library to the adult section on my own. I’d pull a book off the shelf, check the cover (yep, it’s true), read the inside flap and add it to my stack if it sounded interesting. I wasn’t censored. I was growing and developing and figuring out my place in the world, so Summer of My German Soldier, Flowers in the Attic and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret were all part of my reading experience. And it worked out okay because I’m no more going to lock my children in an attic than I am going to torture small animals.


My tastes changed and the mystery genre piqued my interest. I enjoyed solving a whodunnit and the adrenaline rush and suspense that came along with it. I read some Nancy Drew and quickly moved on to edgier authors and started my hardcover book collection. Dean Koontz and John Saul scared the bejeezus out of me and I let them! I only ever read one Stephen King—The Dead Zone. His book On Writing is outstanding, if you ever get the chance to read it. It's about his process, and who doesn't want to know that? Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of my all-time favorites. When I went to college I consumed every Jane Austen and everything the Bronte sisters wrote and I think Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte stands out the most. My roommate loved a good love story. She liked Danielle Steel and LaVyrle Spencer and Spencer, although less prolific, is my preference. She also introduced me to The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher and The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, which have to be in my top 5 favorites of all time. In graduate school I read mostly what was assigned to me and was introduced to the Harlem Renaissance—my favorite literary movement. Zora Neale Hurston was magnificent. Her contemporaries Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, equally so. Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and any of her poetry, rock my world.


Once I had children, my reading habits changed again. The days of Koontz and Saul ended abruptly, as did my late night movie marathons. In college I thought nothing of going to a scary double feature and getting back to my dorm at 1 or 2am spooked out of my wits. As my uncle would say, “Hoo-Boy!” That changed when I had children. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed a good thriller, suspense or mystery, I just liked them with a softer edge and perhaps a little love falling involved. Janet Evanovich makes me laugh out loud and I need that in my life. Nora Roberts and Jude Deveraux can have me hooked within the first paragraph and that’s important to me. When I get time to read, I don’t want to have to wait for 60 pages to engage. I had never read Christian fiction until I started working at the library and Karen Kingsbury and Irene Hannon are great. Dee Henderson, though, she got me with the O’Malley series. Her other series are good, but nothing tops the O’Malleys. Danger in the Shadows was the first I read and I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. Along those lines, you have Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Sparks and Jan Karon who I really enjoy reading, as well. Jan Karon creates a community you want to live in and a minister you want to hear preach, and perhaps share a meal with because you know there will be laughter.


Let’s talk about Jojo Moyes. Whew. Have you read Me Before You or did you just watch the movie? If so, do not do yourself the disservice. Read the book. I’ve never, and I do mean never, seen a movie that was better than the book. My colleague Kathy got everyone in the library to read it and we all fell for Will Trainor. What can I say, after I read Me Before You, I had to write a review for The Louisburg Herald! Great book.


I spent a lot of time reading the William Allen White Challenge books with my kids. They were very excited to get to third grade so they could start on them. For my older children, there was a good balance between humor and drama in the story lines. By the time my youngest son got to the right age, they nearly ALL made me cry and he spent a lot of time eye rolling. Donuthead by Sue Stauffacher has to be one of my favorites. The Shredderman series by Wendelin Van Draanen is also good, just not on a William Allen White Challenge list, although I could make a great case for it. I'd like to be a part of that selection committee...maybe someday. Right now we’re reading the Sports Beat series by John Feinstein, and in our library they are classified as Young Adult. They are a mixture of mystery, suspense and sports writing with famous athletes who make appearances from time to time. I’m pretty sure that’s what hooked my son.


Now that my kiddos are older, I’m able to get back into some spooky stories. Harlen Coben is pretty hard core but his characters are also funny. I like dry, sometimes irreverent humor—if you do, too, you might try Jonathan Tropper. I enjoyed This is Where I Leave You the most. One summer about 7 years ago I started reading series. C.J. Box and J.A. Jance keep me reading, as do Randy Wayne White and William Kent Krueger. There are times late at night when I can’t sleep and I will use CloudLibrary to find an eBook so I don’t wake up anyone (yes, I’m aware it’s bad for me…but it helps me get to sleep, so I keep doing it). A couple of great stand-alone novels I have found have been Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio and A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron.


Basically my interest in books is like my interest in music. Eclectic. Unpredictable. Ever-changing. Whatever might move me, I’ll read and likely enjoy. My favorite today will be very different than my favorite five years from now because I’ll be in a different place in my life with different emotions and perspective. That’s what makes libraries so amazing and essential...no matter what stage of life you are in, you will be able to find a book that will feed your soul.


Joanne Seck

Library Assistant  |  August 2020

1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
In this prequel of the Hunger Games, it is the morning of the reaping for the 10th annual hunger games and eighteen year old Coriolanus Snow is chosen as a mentor to the girl tribute from district 12.  I hated to see the Hunger Games trilogy end, so I was excited when this came out. I hope it will lead to more prequels by the author.


2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Written by the author of If I Stay, this book is the story of teenagers Allyson, and Willem, who, after a chance meeting, see all the sights of Paris and fall in love in just one day.This is a YA book and would probably appeal to older teens.  It’s a fun romance.


3.  The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
For those of you who have only seen the movie, the book will surprise you.  There is also a sequel titled, The Wedding.  The Notebook is my favorite book.


4.  Sue Grafton Alphabet Series
Sue Grafton died in 2017 having completed Y is for Yesterday.  Per her wishes there will never be a Z.  After her death, I read the entire series starting with A is for Alibi.  If you are starting from A, please be patient with the series as this author improves with each book.  


5.  The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This is a work of fiction based on interviews with Lale Sokolov, the man who tattooed numbers onto countless Jewish arms at Auschwitz.  I found this book under my favorite genre, Historical Fiction.  


Angela Allen

Young Adult Services  |  September 2020

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The book tells the story of two sisters in France during World War II, and their struggle to survive and resist the German occupation of France.  This is my all-time favorite book and I recommend it to everyone! I devoured it and even brought it on vacation.  I always bring a book when we travel, but for the most part never pick the book up.  I usually find myself enjoying our trips so much that there is no time to read.  However, I took this book with me and found myself taking it everywhere and opening it to read just one more page every chance I got.  The ending was so incredibly moving.  After I finished it, I gave it to my mom to read.  Something I do often.  She read it in one day and called me at 2am crying.  I thought something terrible had happened, but it was the book!  We cried together!  


2. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
It is a first-person narrative that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, sister of Joseph. She is a minor character in the Bible, but the author has broadened her story.  I first read this book in high school as my sister (can you tell we all loved to read?) had left it sitting on the couch.  I picked it up and fell in love with Dinah and her mothers/aunts!  I ended up reading this book in a couple of days, which quite annoyed my mom as she was supposed to read it before me as my sister left it for her!  The relationships of the women in this book are powerful, loving, and saddening.


3.  Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
This novel has two main parallel plots throughout. The first is that of ten-year-old Sarah Starzynski, a Jewish girl born in Paris, who is arrested with her parents during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. Before they go, she locks her four-year-old brother in a cupboard, thinking the family should be back in a few hours. The second plot follows Julia Jarmond, an American journalist living in Paris, who is asked to write an article in honor of the 60th anniversary of the roundup.  It was a great read and was commanding of my emotions.


4.  Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
The story was written in first person, featuring Melody Brooks, a girl with cerebral palsy.  I have read many Young Adult books, but this book sticks out as one of my favorites. I easily became invested in Melody’s life, her feelings, and how cerebral palsy affected her.  


5. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
I wanted to pick a book that I recently finished as it is still fresh in my mind!  Beartown is a story that follows the events leading up to the rape of a 15-year-old girl by a star junior hockey player, and the consequences for the victim, the players, their families, friends, and the community which has a long-standing reputation as a hockey town.  This book brought up controversial and uncomfortable topics.  It is well written and you become invested in both sides of the story.


Samantha Farmer

Library Assistant  |  October 2020


1. If I Run Series by Terri Blackstok
Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn't commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist he knows the truth and wants to help her. He's let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn't come easily.

2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

3.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Help focuses on three women in 1960s Jackson Mississippi: Aibileen, who works as a nanny and housekeeper for the Leefolt family; Minny, an outspoken maid; and Skeeter, a recent college graduate. Skeeter longs to pursue a career in writing that will take her beyond the stifling confines of her refined white southern society. Dismayed by the racist Home Help Sanitation Initiative started by her childhood friend Hilly Holbrook, Skeeter starts to think about what it might mean to change attitudes about race in Jackson Mississippi. On the suggestion of Harper and Row editor Elaine Stein, Skeeter starts a dangerous new project: interviewing the maids about what it is like to work as a black maid for a white family. Aibileen and Minny are initially skeptical of this idea, but soon realize that this is an important chance to tell their stories. Spurred by Hilly's cruel and racist initiatives, the maids of Jackson Mississippi share their stories with Skeeter. Concerned that people will recognize themselves in the book, Minny adds a dark secret about Hilly to the book so that Hilly will stay quiet about the identity of the maids. The book is a surprise hit, generating a great deal of discussion between black and white women. After the success of the novel, Skeeter moves to New York to work in publishing. Aibileen is fired from her job and embarks on a writing career of her own, and Minny leaves her abusive husband.

4.  The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television 'family'. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.


Elizabeth Ellis

Youth Services Coordinator  |  November 2020

But No Elephants by Jerry Smath is a book from my childhood. It was published just about the same time that I was born and I would pick this one over and over again. The story is about Grandma Tildy who lived all alone until a salesman stopped by to sell her a pet. She welcomed a canary bird and many more pets into her home from that persistent salesman but made it clear BUT NO ELEPHANTS! I later understood that the predictable text and opportunity to participate is why I loved it and why every child that I share it with does too.

Iza Trapani has written a series of picture books that I use often in Storytime at the library. The stories begin with nursery rhymes that we all know and the author takes the stories even further. The Itsy Bitsy Spider doesn't just go up the waterspout but travels through the house and eventually makes it to a beautiful tree to spin a web. A star takes a young girl out of her bedroom and on a journey from way up high in Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Iza Trapani has written close to 20 of these extended nursery rhyme tales.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is such a true account of the moment when you are somewhere in between a child and young woman...a true coming of age tale. Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. This series found me eleven years ago and I enjoyed how the story brought back some of my own youthful memories with it.

Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series with over 3 million books in print, has been translated in 27 different languages and spent more than fifty weeks on the New York Time Bestseller list will now include the achievement of becoming a movie. This series is not just a coming of age story, it also delights science fiction, dystopian literature and quest readers. Uglies tells the story of teenager Tally Youngblood who rebels againast society's enforced conformity, after her friends, Shay and David show her the downsides to becoming a PRETTY.

I met author, Jennifer Weiner in 2004 when I read her book In Her Shoes. Let's be honest...I didn't really meet Jennifer Weiner but her writing style is so personal, raw and filled with emotion that I didn't feel like I was just reading a book. I felt like we had kicked off our shoes, sat on a comfy couch and she was telling me about her wretched sister that was so beautiful, takes more than she gives and worst of all, seems to get whatever she wants. The book, In Her Shoes is an honest take on the complexity of sisterhood and how finding your true self can help you understand others better.

Patty Hall

Library Assistant  |  December 2020

1.   All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny
Best Author Ever!  This is the 16th  novel in the Chief Inspector Gamache series.

2. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman
This book is more endearing than A Man Called Ove by the same author.

3.  Odd Partners: an Anthology edited by Anne Perry, New Stories by Allison Brennan, Jeffery Deaver, William Kent Krueger, Anne Perry, Charles Todd, Jacqueline Winspear and 13 others
Short stories by great authors.  You will figure out why it is titled Odd Partners as you read it.

4. Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
Just Fun, especially for animal lovers.

5. The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
She always writes a good story.

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