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Below are the staff picks from 2023.

2023 Staff Picks

Current Staff Picks

2020 Staff Picks

2021 Staff Picks

Jan Vohs

Library Assistant  |  January 2023

Interlibrary Loan

2022 Staff Picks

Photo of Jan Vohs, library staff

1. The Award by Danielle Steel
When Gaelle de Barbet is 16, she witnesses her best friend and her family being taken by the Germans in 1940 and being sent to a detention camp.  Gaelle finds out where they have been taken and visits her friend every day until one day the camp is no longer occupied and she loses contact.  The local German commandant sets up headquarters in her family home.  By accident, she begins assisting the French Resistance in attempting to save lives knowing that she was unable to save her friend.  Needing to find a job, she is referred to a model agency where she becomes a very successful model.  In time, she eventually marries and has children and grandchildren, but there are challenging relationships in her family.  Her granddaughter works diligently to get her grandmother recognized for the work she did with the Resistance.  I highly recommend this book.

2. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
College student Joe Talbert is given a writing assignment where he needs to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person.  He chooses to go to a nearby nursing home to find his subject.  He selects Carl Iverson, who is a Vietnam veteran and a convicted murderer.  Joe learns that Carl served 30 years in prison but was medically paroled to the nursing home.  Joe's neighbor helps him uncover some important history to Carl's story, but the stakes grow high.  At the same time, Joe is dealing with his dysfunctional mother who has custody of Joe's autistic brother.  He's pulled in different directions with trying to stay in college, complete his assignment and also trying to keep his brother safe.  A very good book.

3. The Children's Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
The morning of January 12, 1888, was unusually mild, following a punishing cold spell.  It was warm enough for the homesteaders of the Dakota Territory to venture out again, and for their children to return to school without their heavy coats – leaving them unprepared when disaster struck.  At the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning.  School teachers as young as 16 were suddenly faced with an impossible decision:  Keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn't get lost in the storm. Based on actual oral histories of survivors, this gripping novel follows the stories of Raina and Gerda Olsen, two sisters, both school teachers – one becomes a hero of the storm and the other finds herself ostracized in the aftermath.  It's also the story of Anette Pedersen, a servant girl whose miraculous survival serves as a turning point in her life and touches the heart of Gavin Woodson, a newspaperman seeking redemption.  It was Woodson and others like him who wrote the embellished news stories that lured northern European immigrants across the sea to settle a pitiless land.  Boosters needed them to settle territories into states, and they didn't care what lies they told these families to get them there.  This is a story of courage, of children forced to grow up too soon, tied to the land because of their parents' choices.  It is a story of love taking root in the hard prairie ground, and of families being torn asunder by a ferocious storm that is little remembered today – because so many of its victims were immigrants in this country.  Excellent book!!

4. If I Were You by Lynn Austin
Set during WW2, Eve and Audrey become friends unexpectedly.  Eve's mother served as a lady's maid to Audrey's mother.  The Nazi invasion occurs in 1940.  They both join the fight as ambulance drivers, battling constant danger.  Audrey begins dating an American who is stationed in England and Eve hopes to have a future with Audrey's brother.  But in the wake of devastating loss, both women must make life-altering decisions.  In 1950, Audrey leaves England for a fresh start in America with her young son.  She needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met.  When she arrives, she finds that Eve has been impersonating her for the past four years.  Very interesting story.

5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
This is a true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942.  Because he could speak several languages, his captors put him to work as a tattooist, permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.  At one point, there is a young woman in his line to receive a tattoo, and he vows to survive the camp and marry her.  This book is a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.  

Kiersten Allen

Library Director  |  February 2023

As you know, I like a mixture of romance, suspense and a solid mystery to keep my attention, and for some reason I got hooked on series several years ago. I tried providing the top five authors who give me what I need in a book and I had to boost it to the top 10:

1. Author Marie Force
She writes in such a variety of styles. It's hard to pick a favorite of her series, so I keep up with all of them and they are all very different.

2. Author William Kent Krueger
After meeting him, I will absolutely read everything he writes. I do love the Cork O'Connor series.

3. Author C.J. Box
Who doesn't love Joe Pickett?! I don't prefer Box's other series and I don't think I can bring myself to watch the television adaptation because Joe is so clear in my mind that I don't want that character ruined for me.

4. Author Nora Roberts
I don't prefer her paranormal titles. She gets me hooked quickly and completely.

5. Author Sandra Brown
A tie with Roberts, probably. Roberts is more prolific, which makes me wonder if she has a ghost writer. That would make me sad. I like the authenticity of authors because it feels like you get to know their personalities through their characters. You can tell when that shifts and I've had some tingling that Roberts is subtly shifting. She definitely has a hand in her work still.

6. Author Debbie Macomber
For a sweet, heartfelt read, she's my go-to.

7. Author Dee Henderson
I could read her series multiple times...and have.

8. Author Randy Wayne White
He writes what C.J. Box and Kent Krueger write, just in Florida and further south. Very intense.

9. Author Irene Hannon
Love her suspense and subtle romance.

10. Author Colleen Hoover
She's new to my list and recommended by a friend - some of her titles could be considered cross-over to YA, as her characters are young.

Cate Finch

Library Assistant |  March 2023

Cate Finch

1. The Selection by Kiera Cass
This is the first book in The Selection series and tells the story about a girl named America who gets the chance to escape her life in the lower class to stay at the palace. But, she will get sent home if she doesn't win the prince's heart. These books are one of my favorite young adult series and I have recommended them to all of my friends.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This is the first book in another young adult series that follows different characters in a space adaptation of classic fairy tales such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.

3. The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
I read this whole series starting in 3rd grade and it was my favorite for many years. Reading these books is like entering a whole new world full of adventure, creative characters, kingdoms, and magic.

4. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
Another juvenile fiction series that I read during quarantine and had to order every book on Amazon because I couldn't stop reading them! I absolutely loved these books and have been waiting for a movie to come out and it finally did! So when you finish the books, head over to Netflix to watch the movie!

5. Author Sharon M. Draper
This is my favorite juvenile fiction author that writes incredible stand alone books such as Out of My Mind, Blended, and Stella by Starlight.

Jennifer Keagle

Jennifer Keagle

Collection Development  |  April 2023

1. The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
I knew about the dust bowl, or so I thought. I read this book and learned so many things. Things I hadn't thought about and things no one mentions when teaching about this time period in history. This book was sad, so get your tissues out.

2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
This book is for book lovers! Meet A.J. Fikry, widowed owner of a failing bookstore on Alice Island. A.J. likes to be left alone to grieve the loss of his wife by drinking. All of that changes when he receives an unexpected package in his store. His life can not continue on the same lonely path, and he starts doing things he never thought he would be able to do again.

3. The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
This historical fiction was recommended by a coworker. This was a great read about two girls living during the Nazi invasion. The most unlikely friendship happens in this book between Sadie, an 18 year old Jewish girl, and Ella, a Polish girl. Sadie seeks refuge in the sewers under the Ghetto during the Nazi invasion. Ella's stepmother loves entertaining and befriending the Nazi soldiers. How is it possible that these girls could become friends?

4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
I love this book so much! The ending was quite the surprise to me. Bonus, it's been made into a movie!

5. Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
Evie Blackwell is the main character in this clean read mystery. She is put incharge of creating a cold case task force in a small Illinois town. She works closely with Gabriel Thane to investigate the cases of a missing tourist couple's daughter and a local sheriff's deputy along with his family.

Rebecca Bowman

Library Assistant  |  May 2023

Rebecca Bowman

1. The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
This book is about an eighteen year old girl named Sadie Gault. She lived with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers. Inspired by incredible true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an unforgettable testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. You will have a hard time putting this one down.

2. The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff
This book is about a Sixteen-year-old girl named Noa. She was cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. This book will have you on the edge of your seat.

3. If I Were You by Lynn Austin
A friend of mine suggested this book. It is full of surprises. In the wake of the war in 1950, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve's secrets and the complicated history of their friendship to the surface.

4. The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble
Colleen Coble has always been a favorite author of mine. This series... Sunset Cove is full of surprises. It is about Claire Dellamare in 1989. She disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine. She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation. Nobody knows where Claire spent that year—and until now, Claire didn't even know she had ever been missing. Someone—maybe everyone—is hiding something from Claire Dellamare, and it will cost her everything to drag the truth out into the light.

5. Love's Unfading Light by Naomi Rawlings
This Book series...An Eagle Harbor is an Historical fiction series. Widow Tressa Danell is finished with men! She has townsmen trying to date her and a banker who wants to repossess her bakery. Every hour is spent working to pay off her late husband's debt and keep a roof over her son's head, though it's doubtful she can do both for very long.  Can Tressa ever accept support if it means giving up her independence and being obligated to a man again? I read this entire book series and really enjoyed it.