Staff Picks

Science Fiction

The Wayfarers series - Becky Chambers

Cover of 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers

This series of four books are all set in a distant future, where mankind has fled a ruined Earth in a fleet of enormous ships. After centuries of wandering, the fleet is discovered by an alien race, just one of many that make up the Galactic Commons, a vast multi-species alliance. Thus do humans find themselves joining galactic society.

This is the setting of the Wayfarers, a loosely connected series set long after the discovery of humanity. What makes these stories excellent is not the setting (though it is wonderful), or the characters (though they are compelling). The what truly elevates these novels is the presentation. Space travel, anti gravity, wormholes, varied species from wildly divergent backgrounds, all are treated as entirely commonplace, just facts of life. This is a world in which people live, and that's exactly what the author shows us: people living.

These are not vast epics of interstellar war, of the clash of ideology, struggles for resources, the advancement of science in new and life-altering ways. These are tales of people getting by, finding their place in society, meeting strangers and leaving friends, the sort of activities that are so common they're hardly worth talking about. Everything they go through is relatable, understandable, because they're commonplace. The fact that one character resembles a giant lizard, and another is a puddle of ooze with eye-stalks, changes nothing. They're just people, trying to live alongside each other. Seeing glimpses of these lives, the adventures, big and small, that make them up, makes for a fascinating journey.

These stories are loosely connected, so I recommend reading them in the order of release, to avoid spoilers.

Recommended by - Donald Priest, Library Director

YA Contemporary Fantasy Thriller

All Our Hidden Gifts - Caroline O'Donoghue

Cover for 'All Our Hidden Gifts' by Caroline O'Donoghue

Maeve Chambers feels like a misfit with no real place in the world. Her family are all brilliant in one way or another, while she struggles in school and feels like she has no gifts. Last year she managed to drive away Lilly, her one true friend at school. However, things seem to change after she finds an old tarot deck, with which she gives eerily accurate readings. Has she found her true calling at last?

Then she finds an unsettling new card not found in any other tarot deck, The Housekeeper, and after a failed attempt to reconnect with her former best friend, Lilly vanishes mysteriously.

Now Maeve, her new friend, Fiona, and Lily's genderfluid sibling, Roe, must find Lilly before it's too late. Will Maeve's new gift be enough to save Lilly? What exactly is the Housekeeper, and how will they confront it?

Set in an Irish town where the church's tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.

Recommended by - Mike DiMuzio, Youth Librarian

Youth Graphic Novel

Dewdrop - Katie O'Neil

Cover for 'Dewdrop' by Katie O'Neil

Another glorious tale from Katie O’Neill, beautifully done in lush colors and highly animated tones. This story follows Dewdrop, a perky little axolotl, and his friends Mia, Newman, and a trio of fish.

Their town is having a sports fair, and everybody has something to contribute, whether participating in the contests, writing a song for the celebration, or cooking up a tasty meal for afterwards. Dewdrop finds himself to be an excellent cheerleader during this time, and lends his contribution to each of his friends as they all prepare for the fair.

Everybody seems to be going through a period of self-doubt, but Dewdrop boosts their confidence and everybody has great fun at the sports fair. Perfect for anybody needing reminding that you don’t have to be ~the~ best, just do ~your~ best and that’s more than enough.

Recommended by - Barbara Keresztury, Adult Librarian

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