Staff Picks

Not sure what to read next, or just looking for something new? Our staff loves to read and put together a list of their favorites below. The list is regularly updated so check back often. Not interested in the options below? Check out our suggested adult reading list, or ask for a list of personalized recommendations from one of our librarians.
Staff Picks and Reviews at Arapahoe Libraries
Title Author Description Staff Review
Kate Morton A suspenseful new novel from beloved and internationally bestselling author Kate Morton, author of The Secret Keeper, The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden and The House at Riverton.

"The magnificent plotting in this novel keeps you guessing from the first page to the last. Add to that a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, a bit of history, strong character development and a deep sense of place and time and it is impossible to put down." ~Wendy T.

Mitch Albom This is the epic story of Frankie Presto - the greatest guitar player who ever lived - and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings. He makes records. He is adored. But Frankie Presto's gift is also his burden, as he realizes the power of the strings his teacher gave him, and how, through his music, he can actually affect people's lives. At the height of his popularity, tortured by his biggest mistake, he vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, having finally healed his heart, does Frankie reappear just before his spectacular death - to change one last life.

"Narrated by Music, this story mixes the supernatural with the fictionalized voices of famous real-life musicians. Though his circumstances are often tragic, Frankie's life is one of beauty and meaning.  Vivid imagery and unexpected and intertwined plot lines add to the magic." ~Wendy T.

Jenn McKinlay Delivering books to the housebound residents of the Thumb Islands, just a short boat ride from the town of Briar Creek, library director Lindsey Norris has befriended two elderly brothers, Stewart and Peter Rosen. She enjoys visiting them in their treasure-filled, ramshackle Victorian on Star Island until she discovers that Peter has been killed and Stewart is missing. Now she's determined to solve a murder and find Stewart before he suffers his brother's fate.

"This is the fifth entry into the series and the first to be published in hardback so I am not the only fan.  Of course I love the library setting, but the characters are warm and smart and I like the way McKinlay creates her character’s relationships and develops the plot." ~Cindy P.

Ellery Adams While attending the Coastal Carolina Crime Festival where Silas Black, a celebrity screenwriter and television producer is speaking, newlyweds Olivia and Chief Rawlings, along with the rest of the Bayside Book Writers, are faced with strange occurrences and a real-life murder.

"The mystery is enhanced by the coastal setting in a fictional area of North Carolina.  The weaving of coastal history with the modern mystery is interesting and Adams continues developing his characters and their relationships.  A consistently good series." ~Cindy P.

Jane K. Cleland Christmas lights twinkle throughout the cozy coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire, and Prescott's Antiques auction venue has been transformed into a winter wonderland for Josie Prescott's annual holiday party. Josie is especially excited this year: Ian Bennington, a recently discovered distant relative, will be joining the fun ... It gives Josie an unexpected thrill to have family--and unexpected dread when he vanishes ... Ian has given his daughter two priceless 17th century watercolor miniature portraits, one of Arabella and one of her lover, King James II, and they've gone missing, too.

"I always learn something in this antique mystery series.  Cleland has a deft hand at mixing information about the antique business and the history of some of the antiques without taking away from the pace of the plot or the mystery itself." ~Cindy P.

Daniel de Visé A lively and revealing biography of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, celebrating the powerful real-life friendship behind The Andy Griffith Show--one of America's most iconic television programs

"A fascinating look at the lives of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.  I knew very little of either man besides their Mayberry days.  Both came from poverty and it drove both of them to succeed as well as giving them some lasting issues to overcome.  The audiobook is very well narrated." ~Cindy P.

Christine Husom Ever since she was a child, Cami has loved the sparkling beauty of snow globes, and now, she sells them. In fact, they're so popular, Cami and her friend--coffee shop owner Alice "Pinky" Nelson--are hosting a snow globe making class. After the flurry of activity has ended and everyone has gone off with their own handmade snow globes, Cami spots a new globe left behind on a shelf, featuring an odd tableau--a man sleeping on a park bench.

"This is the first of a new cozy mystery series.  The main character is someone you would want to hang out with and the rest of the cast are that nice blend of personality but not too wacky.  There are some nice twists in the plot as well.  After reading it I considered making the snow globe from the instructions.  But sanity returned and I just returned the book!" ~Cindy P.

B. A. Shapiro Making a living reproducing famous artworks for a popular online retailer and desperate to improve her situation, Claire is lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting, a Degas masterpiece stolen from the Gardner Museum, in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when that very same long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire's studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery.

"Claire Roth is a yet-to-be-discovered artist when her affair with her professor, an established artist, sends career on a downward spiral.  She ends up painting reproductions and becomes involved with an Edward Degas mystery.  I loved hearing about painting technique and style, too!" ~Cynthia K.

Kirsten Miller A teenaged pickpocket, haunted by the ghost of his brother killed by his father, is recruited for Mandel Academy, a school for criminals where only one student survives each semester.

"A teen title that is entertaining for adults, too.  Seems like The Hunger Games but then it takes a twist." ~Cynthia K.

Nancy Herriman After serving as a nurse in the Crimea, British-born Celia Davies left her privileged family for an impulsive marriage to a handsome Irishman. Patrick brought her to San Francisco's bustling shores but then disappeared and is now presumed dead.

"A great start to a new mystery series.  Herriman makes 1860’s San Francisco come alive.  Her two main characters are both interesting and appealing.  I liked how she shows parts of both characters pasts and current lives and weaves so much into the plot.  It will be fun to see how she develops the series. " ~Cindy P.

Jonathan Franzen A magnum opus for our morally complex times from the author of Freedom Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother--her only family--is hazardous.

"This dense and weighty book is not for the faint of heart, but the tightly-written prose contains absolutely no extraneous information. The intricate plot weaves in and out and back on itself creating a riveting story. The characters are genuine and well-developed and the description transports the reader." ~Wendy T.

Caitlin Doughty The blogger behind the popular Web series "Ask a Mortician" describes her experiences working at a crematory, including how she sometimes got ashes on her clothes and how she cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes.

"This book will not be for everyone, but it is a thought provoking look at how we treat death in our culture and how the funeral industry works.  Doughty narrates her own book in the audio edition and she does a good job of bringing the listener into her world." ~Cindy P. 

Robert Galbraith After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office. Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: his sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier.

"Its rare that i go to bed early just to read but this book beckoned me to find out if Lula really committed suicide. Strike, the detective, is a fully developed character who is full of flaws but very smart as he sets off to investigate Lula's family, who is also full of flaws. Great plot. This book leaves me wondering if this is the first in a series featuring Strike and his detective-wanna-be secretary, Robin." ~Cynthia K.

Sarah McCoy When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad's leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings.

"The past and present intertwine in this lovely story.  Sarah Brown’s story was especially fascinating.  I liked the modern story, but in many ways because Sarah is involved in such an important part of history, Eden’s story was a little less interesting.  I liked that the author included some historical information about Sarah at the end of the book." ~Cindy P.

Laura Childs with Terrie Farley Moran Scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand discovers a bride-to-be murdered in the legendary Lafayette Cemetery . . . Carmela couldn't imagine a finer evening than dinner at Commander's Palace with her beau, Detective Edgar Babcock. The food and the company are equally divine - with the exception of Isabelle Black stopping by to brag about her upcoming wedding.

"Laura Childs writes several different mystery series, this one is part of the Scrapbooking series. I enjoyed finding out more about antique lace and New Orleans. As always the characters are enjoyable and the action is paced well. A nice light read." ~Cindy P.

Laura T. Coffey; photographs by Lori Fusaro "No Dog Should Die Alone" was the attention-grabbing - and heart-stirring - headline of journalist Laura T. Coffey's TODAY show website story about photographer Lori Fusaro's work with senior shelter pets. While generally calm, easy, and already house-trained, these animals often represent the highest-risk population at shelters.

"What a great book....for anyone who loves not just dogs but senior dogs. The author relates various stories of senior dogs and their "second acts" - those who are saved, rescued and go on to live a fulfilled life. There are also resources for senior dog pet owners, of which I appreciated! List of agencies a plus as are the wonderful photos." ~Cynthia K.

Jayne Ann Krentz No one does romantic suspense better than Jayne Ann Krentz. Now, the New York Times bestselling author of Trust No One and River Road delivers a novel that twists and turns into a read that will leave you breathless. Madeline and Daphne were once as close as sisters--until a secret tore them apart. Now it might take them to their graves.

"Jayne Ann Krentz is one of my guilty pleasure authors.  I always enjoy her characters and the romantic suspense she writes.  The heroine is always strong, the hero always finds it hard to explain his feelings, there is always an element of danger to the characters, and of course there is always a happy ending to the story.  If you like romantic suspense check this title out." ~Cindy P.

Caitlin Moran After she shames herself on local television, Johanna Morgan reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde--a fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero--until two years later, while eviscerating bands as a music critic, she realizes she's built Dolly with a fatal flaw.

"Fabulous, original, very funny coming of age book with a dark undercurrent that makes it a serious, poignant novel. Johanna Morrigan is 14 years old, fat, rock-bottom poor, and lives with her parents and four brothers in Wolverhampton, England. Rather than wallowing in her dire straits, she uses her writing talent and optimism to reinvent herself as an outspoken music critic named Dolly Wilde. What I loved most is the way Johanna is able to take horribly embarrassing situations, learn from them, and use her powers of reinvention to take her life in another direction. It's not often a wholesome direction, but Johanna is indomitable.   This is not a Young Adult book, despite the age of the heroine, because of  the frank discussion of sex, as well as lots of cussing by just about everyone." ~Alice K.

Tim Federle An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of "E.T."

"Wonderful humor and a great story about a thirteen-year-old boy named Nate who sings show tunes all the time and longs to audition for a Broadway musical in New York. Very sympathetic portrayal of a short, chubby, rather unattractive boy who is called a faggot and bullied in middle school and is constantly compared to his tall, athletic brother. The author drew on his own experience of living in Pittsburgh, loving show tunes, being bullied, and leaving for New York as soon as he could. Nate is a wonderful character, the story is touching without being heavy handed, and the humor is terrific. I loved this book." ~Alice K.

Libba Bray When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

"A delightful mix of beauty queens, pirates, an evil Corporation, and a mad dictator on a deserted island.  Get into the goofiness." ~Alice K.

Anna Quindlen Abandoning her expensive world to move to a small country cabin, a once world-famous photographer bonds with a local man and begins to see the world around her in new, deeper dimensions while evaluating second chances at love, career and self-understanding.

"A charming, beautifully written book about a 60-year-old photographer, Rebecca Winter, who is living on a small income from sales from photos taken years ago. To earn money, she rents out her Manhattan apartment and rents a house in the boonies that is nothing like what was pictured on the website. Over the next few months, she learns what it is she truly values, gains a new creative passion, and reframes her life. The characters are authentic and sympathetic, which is what I read for. Lyrical, insightful, and often funny writing. Quindlen at her best." ~Alice K.

John Waters John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads "I'm Not Psycho," he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?

"This is a book in three parts. John Waters sets out to hitchhike from his house in Baltimore to his apartment in San Francisco. The first part is the trip taken with imaginary good rides. The second part is the trip taken with imaginary bad rides--the funniest, but also the most horrific part of the book. The third part is what actually happened.  I liked the imaginary parts, but I enjoyed the third part the most because I felt like I got to know John Waters through his interactions with others people. He is a kind, thoughtful man--much less crazy than I would have expected after seeing his films. I learned about how he views himself, and how others see him.  Very creative work--as one would expect from John Waters.  Audiobook is read by the author—a great way to enjoy the story." ~Alice K.

Anne Byrn; photography by Ben Fink Here are 160 brand-new recipes--that's right, 160 amazing cake mix recipes--for luscious layer cakes, sheet cakes, brownies, bars, cookies, and more.

"More than just cakes, find cookie recipes, too, based on using cake mixes.  I was re-inspired in my baking efforts and learned some neat tips along the way such as the ability to freeze bundt cakes!" ~Cynthia K.

Robert Kurson Into thin air and Sebastian Junger's The perfect storm comes a true tale of riveting adventure in which two weekend scuba divers risk everything to solve a great historical mystery and make history themselves. For John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, deep wreck diving was more than a sport. Testing themselves against treacherous currents, braving depths that induced hallucinatory effects, navigating through wreckage as perilous as a minefield, they pushed themselves to their limits and beyond, brushing against death more than once in the rusting hulks of sunken ships.

"A great read that hardly feels like nonfiction.  I needed to remember to stop holding my breath with all of the underwater narrative!" ~Cynthia K.

David Mitchell A vast, intricate novel that weaves six narratives and spans from 1984 to the 2030s about a secret war between a cult of soul-decanters and a small group of vigilantes called the Night Shift who try to take them down. An up-all-night story that fluently mixes the super-natural, sci-fi, horror, social satire, and hearbreaking realism

"This book has it all, realistic characters and believable settings, sci-fi creatures and otherworldly situations, dystopian angst and finally grateful acceptance.  David Mitchell creates a world where the unbelievable becomes real and reality is often not what it seems." ~Wendy T.

Paula McLain Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman--Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of the classic memoir Out of Africa. Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature's delicate balance.

"Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman--Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of the classic memoir Out of Africa. Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature's delicate balance." ~Wendy T.

J.K. Rowling ; illustrated by Jim Kay Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

"Wow!  The world of Harry Potter has always been magical and it just got better. This re-release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is fully illustrated in vibrant color by Jim Kay and adds a whole new dimension to the most popular series in children’s literature.  Immerse yourself and get re-acquainted with the Hogwarts community or enjoy it as a family read-aloud. This one is on my Christmas list!" ~Susan M.

Bob Raczka; Illustrated by Chuck Groenink Twenty-five haiku give readers a fresh, humorous perspective on Santa's December preparations, and rich illustrations pull readers into every wintry scene.

"December 1st - Wishes blowing in - from my overfilled maibox - December's first storm. So begins a lovely new picture book, Santa Clauses: Short Poems From the North Pole by Bob Raczka. It is filled with haiku that counts down each day until Christmas making it a perfect build-up to the big day and a nice pair with an advent calendar. It took me back to the days of composing haiku with my 7-year-old, clapping out the syllables as we went. This fun book may bring out the creative spirit in your child." ~Susan M.

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