Staff Recommendations

January 2022

Africa, amazing Africa Opens in new windowAfrica, Amazing Africa: Country by Country by Atinuke, illustrated by Mouni Feddag 

How many countries are on the African continent? Can you name them or describe them? After perusing this delightful picture book by a Nigerian-born author, you will know a little bit about all 55 nations and have some appreciation for the differences that exist across the continent. The book is divided into regions with one page per country including colorful illustrations, brief country descriptions and 2-3 unique facts for each. There are a few other pages covering general information such as African hairstyles, African religions and the popular sport of football (soccer). Recommended for elementary age and up or for family sharing. ~Sue Daniels~      

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie 

Death on the Nile : a Hercule Poirot mystery Opens in new windowIt’s the same old love story: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, then boy meets girl’s best friend and falls in love with her instead. Serving as a direct sequel to Murder on the Orient Express in the Kenneth Branagh cinematic series, Poirot investigates a love triangle turned deadly. Recently-married Simon and Linnet Doyle are on honeymoon in Egypt, but all is not well for the happy couple. Jacqueline de Bellefort, Simon’s ex-fiancée and Linnet’s former best friend, is mad with jealousy and has been stalking them since the start of their trip. When Linnet is found murdered, it is a tragic (although not totally unexpected) outcome. Jackie is the obvious suspect, but there’s just one problem: she has an airtight alibi. Does this mean one of the other passengers is the murderer? Serving as the “polar” opposite to a train trapped in snow, Poirot is pitted against a devious culprit on a sun-soaked riverboat in Egypt. The deeper our favorite Belgian investigates, the more he discovers Jackie isn’t the only person onboard who wanted Linnet dead. ~Jay Robillard~

The Midwest survival guide : how we talk, love, work, drink, and eat . . . everything with ranch Opens in new window

The Midwest Survival Guide: How We Talk, Love, Work, Drink, and Eat….Everything With Ranch by Charlie Berens 

Hey, just hold on once, we can’t have the January issue of this fine publication without giving a shout out to Elm Grove’s own Charlie Berens: former journalist and current comedian, who is now a proud New York Times bestselling author! Over the holidays, this clever and highly gift-able tome was sold out everywhere, but WE have the print copy, the audio book, and even the Milwaukee Magazine featuring a cover shot and interview with the guy we’ve all seen in hilarious online videos throughout the pandemic. So hunker down on snowy day, bundle up in your Packer hoodie and camo shorts, and thrill to clever stories of Midwestern culture. From the Lake Michigan Triangle (for those who want to get away from it all, there is no need to go all the way to Bermuda) and the importance of the Chicken Dance, to the relationship between chili and cinnamon rolls in Cincinnati and more, enjoy being cheered by some true “Midwest Nice.” Watch out for deer! ~Shannon McKeown~ 

Young Shakespeare Opens in new windowYoung Shakespeare (music CD)

For Neil Young fans, the 2007 release of Live at Massey Hall 1971 was marked with euphoria. One of the first releases of his ambitious and ongoing “Archives” project, it was pure treasure: an acoustic recording of a young Neil (pun alert) in his hometown Toronto, playing familiar hits interspersed with personal banter and origin stories. It was until recently a personal favorite…but it has been supplanted! Released in early 2021, Young Shakespeare is also an acoustic recording from 1971, and boy does it titillate. The sound is crisp, calm, and superior to Massey Hall (which was a raucous outing), and the tracking order is sublime. All bangers on this one. ~Noah Weckwerth~  

Pig Opens in new windowPig (DVD)

Amid the torrent of vanilla vigilante movies that represent his new norm, every few years Nicolas Cage makes a turn that reminds us he is a prodigiously talented thespian. Pig is such a film. In it, Cage plays Rob, a truffle-hunting hermit in the middle of the Oregon wilderness. He bothers no one; no one bothers him. That is, until his prized foraging pig is abducted in a violent raid. Bereft and distraught, Rob must return to the Portland of his past, combing the culinary underground in search of his beloved companion. Despite its combative description, Pig is a quiet film with a sensitive heart, bolstered by a graceful (albeit gritty) performance from Cage, in another top shelf piece for his already loaded mantle. ~Noah Weckwerth~ 

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly 

The frozen crown : a novel Opens in new windowPolitical intrigue meets magic and ghosts in this debut novel from Greta Kelly. Askia, the rightful heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh, leads her small band of soldiers to a southern kingdom to find allies against the evil warlord who has invaded her kingdom. However, her hopes of a quick solution are dashed when it becomes apparent that the Vishiri court is more interested in playing political games than saving the lives of her people. Desperate to take back her kingdom without having to marry into an alliance, Askia begins training with Queen Ozuma to hone her skills as a death witch, someone who can pass into the land of the deceased, while hidden enemies at court seek to thwart her attempts at forming alliances. This fast-paced fantasy ends with a cliffhanger setting the stage for the recently released follow-up, The Seventh Queen. ~Rachael Fealy-Layer~ 

Wink Opens in new window

Wink by Rob Harrell

Wink follows Ross, a seventh grader with a rare eye cancer, which is kind of a big deal. He struggles with the thought of losing his eye, his friends, and his hair. It’s not all bad though. Ross finds a love for music and he can finally express the emotions he has bottled up. Harrell pulls from his own life to create a lively, interesting cast of kids and adults who navigate Ross's diagnosis with varying degrees of success. Wink is a wonderful and fast-paced read that stays optimistic amidst difficult situations. ~Jess Hurtgen~   

Mifune: The Last Samurai (DVD) 

Mifune : the last samurai : a documentary about Toshiro Mifune Opens in new windowThis insightful documentary talks about the life and career of one of Japan’s most famous actors, Toshiro Mifune. After serving as an aerial photographer for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II, Mifune decided to apply for an assistant cameraman position at Toho Productions. Without his knowledge, a friend submitted his application to the talent sector instead, and this led him to a life in front of the camera instead of behind it. Narrated by Keanu Reeves, Mifune discusses the actor’s decades-long collaboration with Akira Kurosawa, which resulted in some of his most celebrated performances including Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and The Hidden Fortress. It also delves into the topic of his personal life, including a penchant for heavy drinking and a troubled marriage. Interviews with Mifune’s children and film crew that worked with him helps to give the viewer an intimate look at the life of this greatly renowned actor. ~Rachael Fealy-Layer~ 

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Malibu rising : a novel Opens in new windowIn 1983, the Riva siblings are the cream of the crop in Malibu society. Nina is a stunning model whose picture is everywhere. Jay is a professional surfer who competes around the world. Hud uses his keen photographer’s eye to document every moment. And although Kit is overshadowed by her famous siblings, she is determined to forge her own path. The Rivas’ fame has surrounded them with celebrities and agents, propelling them into the most rarefied echelons of pop culture. Their annual end-of-summer party is the social event of the season, but this year will change everything. Unexpected (and unwelcome) guests will arrive. Deeply personal secrets will be revealed. And to top it off, the house will go up in flames by morning. 

Getting better with every book she pens, Reid details the Rivas’ rollercoaster of growth from childhood to adulthood. Most compelling of all is the genuine love these siblings share, despite their wildly different personalities. These are characters you root for as they experience the highs and lows of growing up together. ~Jay Robillard~ 

Sal & Gabi break the universe Opens in new windowSal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

In an odd twist of fate, Sal Vidon gets superpowers. After his mother died, Sal figured out how to relax himself into a connection with the universe, allowing him to pull things from parallel worlds into his. And that's pretty cool. It certainly helps with his goal of becoming a top rate magician. But his power also messes with the fabric of space, leaving holes and calamitrons in his wake. Gabi can see these interdimensional holes too, which is weird. Sal and Gabi seem to be the only people who can actually see alternate worlds. Mayhem ensues as these two kids try to get a handle on Sal's ability. This book is a lot of fun, a quick read, and has loads of heart. ~Jess Hurtgen~