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Note to Shelf: May 11th Edition

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month so join us in celebrating their rich heritages. Whether through literature, art, music or culinary delights, enjoy our Just for Fun section which will take you on a journey which shares the myriad of ways we have been enriched!

And check out what are our librarians reading this month! All of these titles are available for download at Hoopla or Libby by Overdrive.

Don't forget to check out this week's featured Memoirs & Biographies booklist.

Pat T.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane is an emotionally charged story of two neighboring families; the dads are both NYPD police officers, and their children, Lena and Francis, are best friends. They seem to be living the picture perfect suburban life, but behind closed doors, each family struggles with their own issues. When one family member enlists the help of the other family, a trauma ensues that has lasting repercussions for both families. Years later, Lena and Francis reconnect as young adults, eventually marrying, having a family, and living a life similar to their parents—but in doing so they must come to terms with the traumas of the past, learn how to forgive, and commit to each other again. I have recommended this book to everyone who is looking for a good read because it is a moving story that lingers with you for a long while.

Ann

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel is the third and final book in the Thomas Cromwell series following Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. This extremely well-written historical novel chronicles many twists and turns of loyalty under the rule of Henry VIII. Though this read is at times a bit laborious, with Thomas Cromwell reflecting on his childhood and other minor characters wandering through the pages, it is still very engaging, especially during the last one hundred pages, which are so compulsive that I could barely put the book down.

The story opens with Anne Boleyn's beheading. Henry VIII is now married to Jane Seymour who will give him his longed-for male heir. Thomas Cromwell is enjoying his power and influence on the king during this period. Alas, Jane soon dies after the birth of her son and once again Henry is searching for a new wife. There are bloody clashes and executions in England as the papists maintain that the Pope, not the King, is the head of the church. Thomas tries to keep the peace and reaches out to Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine, in a bid to influence her to accept her father's beliefs. A few years later, this move will come back to implicate Thomas as he falls out of favor with the king. Once so influential, Thomas Cromwell is executed a mere four years after Anne Boleyn.

I highly recommend this novel. It is long but so well-written that you will gain tremendous insight into the realm of Henry VIII, and these people who lived hundreds of years ago will stay with you long after you finish this wonderful novel.

Virginia

What do Pixar, an elite military force, an NBA basketball team, and an international ring of thieves have in common? According to Daniel Coyle in his best-selling book, The Culture Code, they all have a leadership structure that encourages employee engagement and ownership even in times of adversity. We have all heard about the importance of culture in successful companies, but this was the first book that gave me a true understanding of what culture means, and how it is developed. Coyle does a masterful job of exploring leadership decisions in unconventional settings, such as why two opposing sides in a war called a truce on Christmas Eve. Or, why the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs has family dinners for the team. The Culture Code is full of facts, but Coyle presents each case study as an engaging story, so it is never boring. This is one of my favorite business books, and I highly recommend the e-Audiobook version.

Note to Shelf, Jr.

Kaitlin

If you’re someone who scours book review sources for award-winning titles, you’re probably already familiar with Traci Sorell’s We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga.

Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) is a Cherokee word used to express gratitude as part of daily life. We Are Grateful follows a full Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences as shared through the lens of the changing seasons. A glossary, an author’s note on Cherokee culture, and a complete Cherokee syllabary round out the title, making it a great introduction to Cherokee culture for younger readers.

If you haven’t yet experienced this gem of a picture book, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out. Not only was it named to a ton of lists in the 2018/2019 award cycle, the e-Audiobook put out by Live Oak Media is one of the best children’s audiobooks I’ve ever encountered.

Note to Shelf, Teen

Mia

One of my absolute favorite comic series of all time, Giant Days by John Allison, centers around three new friends, Daisy, Esther, and Susan, who meet as freshmen at college and go on to have many wacky adventures together. The comics are brightly colored and full of energy, the girls are funny and fierce, and it’s easy to feel like you are becoming a part of their hilarious group of friends with every new panel. The last issues are coming out in June, so now is the perfect time to binge read this hilarious series!

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