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Staff Picks

Each Saturday a staff member is featured on the website and social media with a book selection from the Allegany County Library System collection that really stood out to them. See what catches your attention and next time you visit the library, chat up the librarian about the book you saw on the Staff Picks!

Connie's Staff Pick: The Secret Chord February 16 – Connie

The Secret Chord  by Geraldine Brooks

I love Geraldine Brooks writing. She makes me feel smart and she teaches me all kinds of things.

This book is about King David (the one who slew Goliath).  She delves into his life from early days as shepherd to his later years as king.  She tells this tale through the writings of his longtime confidant, Natan. All I knew about David was from the Bible stories. I found this book very insightful and impeccable researched.  Good read for history buffs.

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Find it on Overdrive or Libby!

Maureen's Staff Pick: Homer's Odyssey February 9 – Maureen

Homer’s Odyssey: a fearless feline tale or how I learned about love and life with a blind wonder cat by Gwen Cooper

Gwen Cooper’s memoir Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat is more than just a heartwarming story about a blind cat whose life was full of joy, adventure, and courage.  It is also the story of what Homer taught Gwen, her family, and friends just by living his life to the fullest.  This emotional book has moments of love, joy, humor, and sadness, but overall is an uplifting read about refusing to accept limits when faced with obstacles.  I recommend this book to anyone who loves animals, and if you enjoy Homer’s Odyssey also try Gwen Cooper’s other memoirs and novels about life with cats.

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Paula's Staff Pick: Do Not Become Alarmed February 2 – Paula

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

You WILL become alarmed while reading Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy! Two families go on a cruise to South America and towards catastrophe. During an off ship day all six children disappear from their mothers’ sight. The chapters are alternated so you get the perspectives of both the adults and children. I absolutely love a fast paced thriller and if you do too add this book to your reading list.

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Find it on Overdrive and Libby!

Liz's Staff Pick: Where the Crawdads Sing January 19 – Liz

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This book was so beautifully written, so full of detail, I’ve suggested it to all our patrons.  You’ll never forget Kya the  ” Marsh Girl ” and the ending !!

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Find it on Overdrive and Libby!

Regina's Staff Pick: Christmas on the Island January 12 – Regina

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

For those who have always wanted to visit a Scottish isle or who love quirky characters, Christmas on the Island, # 3 in the Summer Seaside Kitchen series by Jenny Colgan, is a heartwarming story. It’s a contemporary tale of small village at the northern edge of the world, only reachable by boats and barges, whereas storms and gales may rock the beautiful, wild island – life’s issues can rock those who inhabit it. Although lighthearted and funny, serious issues are tackled and yes, a few tears may be shed. I’m looking forward to backtracking and catching up with Colgan’s first two books in the series – The Café by the Sea and The Endless Beach.


 Favorite quotes: “He had to take his life as he had had to take it for the last five years: to have no expectations as to what each day would bring. In fact, to expect nothing. To grab joy if he could. To hold fast. To try never to be surprised.”.

 “Life was short and loss was long and if anyone could find a bit of happiness – a tiny bit – they had to cling onto it like a lifebelt thrown to a drowning man,”

“On Mure, midwinter had been celebrated long, long before the Christians had arrived in the northern lands; way back as long as there had even been people, they had marked with standing stones the position of the heavens, and the changing of the seasons, and the very centre of the dark. Midwinter is a far deeper, wilder magic than Christmas. It began before religious divisions and is older than religion itself, beyond nativities or other portrayals. Midwinter is a human concern rooted in the earth and the body, not the heavens and the soul.”

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Suzy Staff Pick December 22 – Suzy

The Greatest Adventure by Tony Piedra

The Greatest Adventure is a colorful and exciting children’s’ book that follows a young boy who is in search of adventure after hearing his Grandfathers’ adventure stories. They set out in search of an adventure for the young boy and find out that the greatest adventure is the one he is on right where he is. A wonderful reminder for readers of all ages that we need not go to distant lands to enjoy the excitement of adventure.

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Toni Staff Pick December – 15 Toni

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

If you enjoy historical fiction (WWII) and the weaving together of stories, you will love this book.   The powerful words Jenoff uses to describe her characters thoughts and actions, will bring you to a point where you deeply empathize with the characters, and longing to hear how their stories conclude.  Enjoy this selection from one of the many offered digital formats, pick up a copy at your local library branch of choice, or do like I did by switching back and forth between digital audio book and the physical copy of the book.

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Read or listen on hoopla today! 

Plus, check out the Book Discussion resources for this book on hoopla’s Book Club Hub!  

Cathy Staff Pick December 8 – Cathy R.

Alaskan Quest series by Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson’s Alaskan Quest series is amazing. It’s not one of her newest series but if you haven’t read it yet, I would highly recommend it. It takes you into a world of rugged Alaskan beauty, adventure and mystery. Get lost in the pages of this intriguing and touching story.

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Lisa's Pick: Racing to the Finish December 1 – Lisa Mc.

Racing to the Finish: My Story by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

My nearly twenty years of being a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr solidified in 2009 when I checked out the book Driver #8 from the LaVale Library.  Driver #8 recounted Earnhardt’s rookie season in NASCAR with plenty of fun anecdotal shenanigans along the way.  That was Junior in his twenties, the same age as I was at the time.  I remember thinking that this was a likable and entertaining person that I would be happy to cheer for each Sunday.  And I did just that for over eighteen seasons, listening in to the team communications, watching interviews, going to races, and staying tuned in for the victories like two Daytona 500 wins, and tragedies, like the death of his father at that same racetrack.

Fast forward to 2018 and Racing to the Finish, a book which reflects Earnhardt’s maturation into a family man, a responsible businessman and owner of JR Motorsports, and an established and recognizable sports persona and icon of Junior Nation, his millions of fans.   The focus of the book, however, is the serious concussion symptoms Dale Jr suffered and his mission to be a voice to bring awareness to others who are in need of help. It was absolutely shocking to me, super fan that I am, to read what was going on for years unbeknownst to everyone but Junior, who was waging an internal struggle and suffering in silence until the nausea, balance issues, and moodiness could not be ignored. Junior shares what he learned on his journey to recovery, including the different types of concussions and how they are treated.

This book is recommended for fans of Earnhardt and racing, as well as anyone who participates or has participated in any contact sports at risk for concussions.

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Find it on Overdrive and Libby! 

Kathy's Pick: A Christmas Sea November 17 – Kathy

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

Just out in time for Christmas, this romantic heartwarming Christmas story is about a widow and her son who inherits the family beach cottage in Maine struggling to make the right decision about their future. Should Wendy renovate and sell the beachside cottage then return to her job in Ohio or should she make a new life in this quaint seaside village. Wendy will trust in the Lord to make the right decision.

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Read or listen on hoopla today!