Staff Picks – May 2021

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin, recommended by Vicki
Life for Lynette is a struggle. Bone tired, the 30-year-old works two jobs, counts the cranks until her ancient Nissan turns over and, with her mother, rents a house that teeters on its crumbling foundation. Surrounding her, Portland booms and the skyrocketing housing market excludes the likes of her. When her landlord presents the opportunity to buy the house, Lynette’s first chance at security shatters when her mother reneges on the promise to cosign the loan. Desperate, Lynette revisits her past to collect old debts from associates with no intention of paying.

Vlautin is a master at depicting the marginalized, and intimately explores the rhetoric and reality of security, urban renewal and the not so beautiful side of gentrification. Read his acknowledgements for further enlightenment on the genesis of this novel. His previous books include The Motel Life and Lean on Pete, both adapted to film, and Don’t Skip Out on Me, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and a Southwest Book of the Year. 

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain, recommended by Dennis
A novel that is, at times, difficult to read and seems extremely personal. An FBI investigator has recently lost a child and returns to her home town to get her life together.  While there she becomes involved in the investigation of a missing girl. Her past and the present collide as she becomes consumed with solving the case. This book is full of darkness, but has an unexpected ending full of hope. 

Wrong Alibi by Christina Dodd, recommended by Tracie
Evie has the wrong alibi, or no alibi, when she is accused and framed for killing a homeowner and her young son. Evie has lived in Alaska for just over a week with the boss who hired her straight out of a juvenile detention center in California when he disappears and all proof of his existence vanishes with him. What can Evie do to stay out of jail — again?

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson, recommended by Karen
An engaging and humorous tale of the happenings at a Reno divorce ranch in 1938, told from a ranch hand’s point of view. The story was is well written and informative about a little known and remembered era. The characters are memorable, and help us to remember that the bonds of friendship can be strong and healing, even after time together is over.  

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown, recommended by Diana 
Nina thought that acquiring a liberal arts degree would be her way out of an ordinary life. She dreamed of having an exciting life and fulfilling career. When she realizes her dream is not going to happen as planned, she reverts to the life she learned from her mother: stealing from rich kids in L.A. Nina’s mother was the original con artist, so Nina learned from the best. When her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her — alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. 

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wants to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer — receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locations. Behind her façade is a life scarred by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s mountain estate, a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from Nina’s. Vanessa, Lachlan and Nina’s paths collide on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, recommended by Leah
This Kristin Hannah novel is a great read. It’s a fast moving story about friendship, family and love. The story follows two best friends growing up, coming to adulthood and facing the challenges of life. They learn to love and forgive during life’s hardest times. This book is full of surprises, with every chapter it keeps you on edge waiting to see what will happen next.  While this title was originally published in 2008, Firefly Lane is gaining renewed popularity due to a new series Netflix has released based on the book.

Cursed Objects: Strange But True Stories of the World’s Most Infamous Items by J.W. Ocker, recommended by Megan
A tomb, a creepy doll, and an ancient ring sound like good candidates to be cursed, but what about a chair, a painting, even a song? J.W. Ocker chronicles these and many more supposedly cursed objects from history and modern day. Each entry has history, humor, and the research to back it up. There are illustrations, but as you read about each object, you might find yourself seeking out photos and even Wikipedia articles on them. The curses can’t reach through computer screens, right?