Staff Picks of 2015

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  12/28/2015

When looking for great book recommendations you need look no further than your library. We asked Deschutes Public Library staff to share their favorite books of 2015. Here’s their list.

Charlotte N.
Bones Dry Bones
by Craig Johnson

This is the 11th full novel the author’s Walt Longmire series. What could connect a T-Rex skeleton, snapping turtles, a dead Indian elder’s ghost with stars in his eye-holes, and murder have in common? Walt Longmire unravels yet another mystery.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
by Alan C. Bradley

This is book seven in the author’s Flavia de Luce series. The precocious and perennially 12-year-old heroine, Flavia, has a penchant for poison and solving murders. She is sent to boarding school in Canada; the school her dead mother Harriet attended at the same age. How did that mummified body get crammed up one of the school’s chimney, and who is she … really?

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition)
by J.K. Rowling; illustrated by Jim Kay

For Harry Potter fans—among whose ranks I count myself—this delightful new edition’s illustrations are worth rereading the book.

Chandra V.
The Deep The Deep
by Nick Cutter

A strange plague called the 'Gets is decimating humanity on a global scale. It causes people to forget--small things at first, like where they left their keys...then the not-so-small things like how to drive, or the letters of the alphabet. Then their bodies forget how to function involuntarily...and there is no cure. But now, far below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, deep in the Marianas Trench, an heretofore unknown substance hailed as "ambrosia" has been discovered--a universal healer, from initial reports. It may just be the key to a universal cure. In order to study this phenomenon, a special research lab, the Trieste, has been built eight miles under the sea's surface. But now the station is incommunicado, and it's up to a brave few to descend through the lightless fathoms in hopes of unraveling the mysteries lurking at those crushing depths...

Bone Gap Bone Gap
by Laura Ruby

Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.

The Forgotten Room The Forgotten Room
by Lincoln Child

Enigmalogist Jeremy Logan who specializes in investigating inexplicable phenomena probes strange happenings at the Newport, RI, mansion that houses the Symposikon think tank.

Fuzzy Mud Fuzzy Mud
by Louis Sachar

Two middle-grade kids take a shortcut home from school and discover what looks like fuzzy mud but is actually a substance with the potential to wreak havoc on the entire world.

Day Four Day Four
by Sarah Lotz

Hundreds of pleasure-seekers stream aboard The Beautiful Dreamer cruise ship for five days of cut-price fun in the Caribbean sun. On the fourth day, disaster strikes: smoke roils out of the engine room, and the ship is stranded in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon supplies run low, a virus plagues the ship, and there are whispered rumors that the cabins on the lower decks are haunted by shadowy figures. Irritation escalates to panic, the crew loses control, factions form, and violent chaos erupts among the survivors. When, at last, the ship is spotted drifting off the coast of Key West, the world's press reports it empty. But the gloomy headlines may be covering up an even more disturbing reality.

Ruby on the Outside Ruby on the Outside
by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes has a real best friend for the first time ever, but agonizes over whether or not to tell her a secret she has never shared with anyone--that her mother has been in prison since Ruby was five--and over whether to express her anger to her mother.

The Night Sister The Night Sister
by Jennifer McMahon

Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adults, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds--revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

Cheryl W.
The Scorpion Rules The Scorpion Rules
by Eric Bow

The teenage princess of a future-world Canadian superpower, where royal children are held hostage to keep their countries from waging war, falls in love with an American prince who rebels against the brutal rules governing their existences.

Illuminae Illuminae
by Amir Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.

Denise C.
The Nightingale The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale takes place during WWII and joins the experiences of ordinary people and their courage during turbulent times. The heroines of this story are two sisters who are quite different. The book is narrated by an omniscient narrator and a woman, now elderly and ill, who decides to return to France to accept honors of bravery and sacrifice.

Our Souls at Night Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

I found this book to be touching. An older couple finding each other after loss, dealing with gossiping townsfolk calling it a scandal since the two leads in the book begin to ‘sleep’ together. Just sleep. The author is a master at letting us in to observe the conflict between duty and love, making goodness almost impossible. A short and lovely winter weekend read.

The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

If you enjoyed Gone Girl you will most likely enjoy this novel. Full of more twists and turns I have seen in a long time. The main character witnesses something happening one day and it becomes a thrilling and slippery read. This particular book was immediately optioned by Stephen Spielberg and DreamWorks.”

The Gratitude Diaries The Gratitude Diaries
by Janice Kaplan

This book was a breath of fresh air. I loved it so much I bought copies for my sisters and mother for Christmas. In this day and time and all that is occurring at lightning speed, Janice’s Gratitude Diaries is a must read. By practicing simple acts of gratitude adding in her book and her thoughts and studies of gratitude could easily change people’s everyday lives.

Erin B.
The Girl on the Train The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

I, like almost everyone who read it, loved this book. I read its entirety in one Friday night. It was worth not watching Dateline for. (It’s true, I watch Dateline on Friday nights!)

Esther C.
A Court of Thorns and Roses A Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas

Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. As her feelings toward him transform from hostility to a firey passion, the threats against the faerie lands grow. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose Tamlin forever.

We All Looked Up We All Looked Up
by Tommy Wallach

The lives of four high school seniors intersect weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth's orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet.

Heather M.
Crenshaw Crenshaw
by Katherine Applegate

A homeless boy adopts an imaginary friend in order to endure the chaos.

The Thing About Jellyfish The Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin

Suzy’s intense grief over the death of her friend causes her to try to prove it was due to the sting of a jellyfish.

Bone Gap Bone Gap
by Laura Ruby

Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying. This should win the Printz!

The War that Saved My Life The War that Saved My Life
by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

A girl with a club foot and her brother leave London during World War II and begin a new life in the country. This should win the Newbery!

Firefly Hollow Firefly Hollow
by Alison McGhee

A firefly, a cricket, a boy and a vole set out to make their dreams come true.

The Hired Girl The Hired Girl
by Laura Amy Schlitz

Over the summer of 1911 Joan escapes from her abusive father and learns about her own strengths, as well as an understanding of the importance of different faiths.

Crimson Bound Crimson Bound
by Rosamund Hodge

Rachelle must protect the king’s bastard son.

Last Chance Mustang Last Chance Mustang
by Mitchell Bornstein

The true story of one man’s efforts to save an abused mustang.

Fish in a Tree Fish in a Tree
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ally’s afraid everyone will figure out she can’t read, but a perceptive teacher helps her toward self-pride and understanding.

The Penderwicks in Spring The Penderwicks in Spring
by Jeanne Birdsall

As spring arrives on Gardam Street, there are surprises in store for each Penderwick, from neighbor Nick Geiger's expected return from the war to Batty's new dog-walking business, but her plans to use her profits to surprise her family on her eleventh birthday go astray.

Jenny P.
Landfalls Landfalls
by Naomi J. Williams

This book got under my skin and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s the fictionalized account of a French expedition to explore trade routes in the late 1700s. Each chapter presents a small slice of the voyage through a different character’s eyes. Gorgeously written, it is in parts funny, profound and heartbreaking. So good.

In a Dark, Dark Wood In a Dark, Dark Wood
by Ruth Ware

My favorite of the recent spate of psychological thrillers following on the heels of Gone Girl. This book hooks you and does. not. let. go. Leonora hasn’t seen her old high school friend Clare in 10 years, yet accepts an invitation to her bachelorette party—a weekend celebration at a remote house in the woods. Told in flashbacks from the hospital bed where Leonora wakes up covered in blood, you’ll be guessing till the end. This is also a great listening book.”

Joan S.
The Aeronaut’s Windlass The Aeronaut’s Windlass
by Jim Butcher

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion--to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory. And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.

Zeroes Zeroes
by Scott Westerfeld

Told from separate viewpoints, teens Scam, Crash, Flicker, Anonymous, Bellwether, and Kelsie, all born in the year 2000 and living in Cambria, California, have superhuman abilities that give them interesting but not heroic lives until they must work as a community to respond to a high stakes crisis.

Josie H.
Ask Me Ask Me
by Bernard Waber

A father and daughter explore their neighborhood, talking and asking questions as they go.

Unicorn on a Roll Unicorn on a Roll
by Dana Simpson

Recounts the further adventures of Phoebe and her unicorn friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostril.

Liisa S.
The Swimmer The Swimmer
by Joakin Zander

A deep-cover CIA agent races across Europe to save the daughter he never knew... In the end, you cannot hide who you are. Klara Walldéen was raised by her grandparents on a remote archipelago in the Baltic Sea, learning to fish and hunt and sail a boat through a storm. Now, as an EU Parliament aide in Brussels, she is learning how to navigate the treacherous currents of international politics: the lines between friend and enemy, truth and lies. But Klara has accidentally seen something she shouldn't have: a laptop containing information so sensitive that someone will kill to keep hidden. Suddenly, she is thrown into a terrifying chase across Europe, with no idea who is hunting her or why. Meanwhile, in Virginia, an old spy hides from his past. Once, he was a man of action, an operative so dedicated that he abandoned his infant daughter to keep his cover. Now, he is the only man who can save Klara . . . and she is the only woman who can allow him to lay old ghosts to rest.

Vanishing Games Vanishing Games

It's just before dawn on the South China Sea when three experienced pirates open fire on a small smuggling yacht. Their target: a bag of uncut sapphires worth millions. But when one of them stumbles across an enormous treasure that wasn't on the manifest, everything goes sideways. Within minutes the other two are dead, leaving this coldblooded psychopath to claim both the sapphires and the mysterious bonus in hopes of disappearing completely, as he'll now be as rich as Croesus for life.

Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? True Stories and Confessions Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? True Stories and Confessions

“The audio version is a must.”

The unstoppable, irreverent mother-daughter team presents a new collection of funny stories and true confessions that every woman can relate to. From identity theft to the hazards of bicycling to college reunions and eating on the beach, Lisa and Francesca tackle the quirks, absurdities, and wonders of everyday life with wit and warmth.

Liz G.
The Tsar of Love and Techno The Tsar of Love and Techno
by Anthony Marra

Set in Russia, Marra’s collection of short stories spans 75 years, beginning in the 1930s at the peak of Stalin’s political purges. By weaving characters and their storylines together the collection resembles and reads like a novel. Marra has created a cast of characters that, in spite of their bleak and dire circumstances, are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and definitely unforgettable.”

Louise C.
Fates and Furies Fates and Furies
by Lauren Groff

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

Between the World and Me Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him--most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. In [this book], Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings--moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.

Challenger Deep Challenger Deep
by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point of Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosh is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Bone Gap (audio) Bone Gap (audio)
by Laura Ruby

Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.

If You Plant a Seed If You Plant a Seed
by Kadir Nelson

While planting seeds in their garden, two animals learn the value of kindness.

The Thing About Jellyfish The Thing About Jellyfish
by Ali Benjamin

Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend's death.

Maggie M.
H is for Hawk H is for Hawk
by Helen Macdonald

When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life.

Circling the Sun Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

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. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it's the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl's truest self and her fate: to fly. Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain's powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

The Wright Brothers The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

David McCullough once again tells a dramatic story of people and technology, this time about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly, Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Missoula Missoula
by Jon Krakauer

From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana ­-- stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape. Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team -- the Grizzlies -- with a rabid fan base. The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

Mary Kay T.
After the Wind After the Wind
by Louis W. Kasichke

It’s about the epic 1996 climbing disaster on Mt. Everest. The author was on the team with Jon Krakauer, who wrote Into Thin Air.

Michele D.
Early Warning (audio) Early Warning (audio)
by Jane Smiley

Early Warning opens in 1953 with the Langdons at a crossroads. Their stalwart patriarch Walter, who with his wife had sustained their Iowa farm for three decades, has suddenly died, leaving their five children looking to the future. Only one will remain to work the land, while the others scatter to Washington, DC, California, and everywhere in between. As the country moves out of postwar optimism through the Cold War, the social and sexual revolutions of the 1960s and '70s, and then into the unprecedented wealth--for some--of the early '80s, the Langdon children will have children of their own: twin boys who are best friends and vicious rivals; a girl whose rebellious spirit takes her to the notorious Peoples Temple in San Francisco; and a golden boy who drops out of college to fight in Vietnam--leaving behind a secret legacy that will send shockwaves through the Langdon family into the next generation.

A God in Ruins A God in Ruins
by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again. A GOD IN RUINS tells the dramatic story of the 20th century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy--would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather--as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world. After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

Sheila G.
An Ember in the Ashes An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

Red Queen Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

In a world divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities--seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red, discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. But Mare risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard --a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction.

Chasing Secrets Chasing Secrets
by Gennifer Choldenko

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie and her secret friend Noah, who is hiding in her house, plan to rescue Noah's father from the quarantined Chinatown, and save everyone they love from contracting the plague that is spreading in 1900 San Francisco.

Shannon B.
Six of Crows Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first.

Our Lady of the Ice Our Lady of the Ice
by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A female P.I. comes into conflict with a ruthless gangster just as both humans and robots agitate for independence in a domed Argentinian colony in Antarctica.

Uprooted Uprooted
by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows--everyone knows--that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn't, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

The Princess and the Pony The Princess and the Pony
by Kate Beaton

Princess Pinecone would like a real war horse for her birthday, instead of which she gets a plump, cute pony--but sometimes cuteness can be a kind of weapon, especially in a fight with dodgeballs and spitballs and hairballs and squareballs.

Sue F.
Our Souls at Night Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

My favorite book of the year, and Haruf’s last book before he died. I love this story about an older (70-ish) couple who decide to sleep together for comfort and company—not sex. It is such a sweet farewell from a fine writer.

Martin Marten Martin Marten
by Brian Doyle

I love Doyle’s writing style and the depth of his description of the animal world. Martin is a 14-year-old boy who lives with his parents and brilliant younger sister at the base of Mt. Hood. The story alternates between Martin and Marten the marten. Lovely story in every way.

Tina D.
Slade House Slade House
by David Mitchell

David Mitchell’s literary universe gets more intriguing, more complex with every new book. That said, Slade House is probably his most accessible book to date. At its core it’s a great ghost story about a house that appears every nine years—and every nine years someone disappears. After I read it I was inspired to re-read all of Mitchell’s novels starting with his first, Ghostwritten.”

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