Staff Picks 2023

Favorite 2023 Reads from the Staff @ Your Craven-Pamlico Regional Library

The Book That Wouldn't Burn by Mark Lawrence
This book delivered on all the things, which in my opinion make a good fantasy read--vivid descriptions of other worlds, time travel, different sentient species, elements of myth and magic, and even some romance.  But the book isn't a fluff piece, and explores several fairly deep themes including the role of libraries and the idea that if a little bit of knowledge is sometimes a dangerous thing, could too much knowledge turn out to be a really bad thing?  Also, I liked the way Lawrence handled the philosophical theme of good versus evil throughout the book by giving the perspectives of the two main characters who at first were unaware they were different species (a Human and a Canid) and held a common view of "the enemy" but once they became aware they were different, viewed each other as "the enemy."  All in all, the book was very entertaining and kept me engaged throughout. There was a lot of action and plot twists at the book's end though and my hopes that Livira and Evar would get a HEA were not to be.  I will have to wait for Book 2 ("The Book That Broke the World") or beyond, I guess!

Andrea (Andy) Britton, Library Assistant , Craven-Pamlico Regional Library

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See
The story was created from a non-fiction book written by a female doctor during the Ming dynasty about common aliments for women and their cures. It tells the story of what this female doctor’s life may have looked like and the joy’s (friendships and love) and struggles (foot binding and loss) she may have endured. It’s a fast read with many twists and turns. 

ADHD 2.0 by Edward M. Hallowell
Super informative book about ADHD in adult or child. Helpful in trying to understand what could be going on, how it feels and how to feel okay about it. It’s written in a way that a person with ADHD can get through easily, short chapters and easy to skip around in.

Diann Landow, Library Assistant, Pamlico County Library

Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk
It's a sapphic noir with some fantasy elements. It's equally as dark and disturbing as it is sweet and I could not put it down!
Charlie Woodall, Craven-Pamlico Regional Library Book/Tech Mobile

Vera Wong's Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto
This book covers some very sad topics, but the protagonist, Vera, steeps it in an upbeat optimism and good humor through sheer, Tiger-Mom force of will. Vera's an active older lady who inserts herself into a murder investigation, but the police are (shockingly) not grateful for her assistance! As she investigates, she meets other Asian-Americans connected to the victim, and takes them under her motherly wing, even as she vocally refuses to rule them out as the perpetrator(s).

Brianna Leverenz, Havelock-Craven County Library, Assistant Branch Manager

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
What a thought provoking read!  The people of Appalachia lived in a difficult area and the 1930's was a trying time.  Regardless of her patrons' differences, hardships, and the harshness she herself endured, this librarian continues to fulfill her job obligations to her community...and all on horseback!  I continued to be inspired by watching her serve her community in a host of ways that sometimes had nothing to do with books, her purpose was always for the greater good.  Cussy Mary Carter was a fighter, who passionately and bravely carried on.  This story will awaken every emotion the reader can imagine!  The book certainly generated some great discussion at our book club!

Julie W. Cox, Cove City - Craven County Public Library, Branch Manager

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett 
I love the way she tells the story and her writing style is so incredible!

Victoria Hungerford, Library Assistant, Craven-Pamlico Regional Library

HiLo by Judd Winick (Graphic Novel Series)
HiLo is an alien who crashes to Earth where he meets a young boy who tries to help HiLo fit in even as he himself struggles with his peers. That doesn't begin to touch on the problems when another set of alien invaders comes looking to destroy HiLo.  I enjoyed reading this book with our 3-5 graders in our Thursday Bookativities program and I think it would make a good gift for any upper elementary child on your holiday shopping list!

Shirin Scotten, New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Youth Services Librarian Assistant

Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins
A story of a decent man in indecent times. I found this book to be an atypical political book.  Easy to read, entertaining and terrifying.

Deb Fox, Havelock-Craven County Public Library, Library Assistant

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Banks
This book is a mind-shredder. Just when you think you have even an inkling of figuring things, you don't. The cloying unease of the novel ratchets up until the crescendo of the final thirty or so pages, when everything comes together in the most unexpected way. My brain was melted.
Travis Green, New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Library Assistant

Wombat Said Come In by Carmen Agra Deedy
This is a picture book that taught me about Australian bushfires and animals, and also shares a sweet message about looking after your neighbors. The text has a nice rhythm and makes for a good read-aloud.

Rebecca Lucas, New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Youth Services Manager

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is romance, mystery, and glamour. This fast-paced story takes you back to glamorous 1950's old Hollywood in a pursuit of truth, love, and authenticity. Well written and thought-provoking."
Sidney J. Phibbons, Pamlico County Public Library, Branch Manager

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
Full of action, suspense, romance, and dragons; this book kept me turning the pages! I loved that the main character, Violet, persevered through challenges and thought creatively in order to succeed. This was such a fun fantasy story and I'm excited for the next book in the series! 
Miriam Roseblossom, Vanceboro-Craven County Public Library, Branch Manager 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus  
I liked the 1960s time period and the look back at what women endured.  We've come a long way!

Jennifer Michener, Cove City-Craven County Library, Library Assistant

Hang The Moon by Jeannette Walls. 
I fell right into this book, when I was reading it. I say this when I have really enjoyed a book.   It takes place during the 30's and 40's, which is one of my favorite decades to read.
Debbie Scott, New Bern-Craven County Library, Library Assistant

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Series)
I like it because it is a heroine and she kicks some serious butt.

Melanie Germon, Vanceboro Public Library, Library Assistant

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Trilogy)
Liked the captivating story and the variety of well developed characters. 

Whitney Saucier, New Bern-Craven County Library, Library Assistant

Too Late by Colleen Hoover
This one was also suspenseful. I love a good suspense novel and this one didn't disappoint. It held you to the very end. Lots of twists and turns
Tammy W. Smith, Vanceboro-Craven Pamlico Public Library, Library Assistant

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan
Clothes rationing in Britain during WW II prompts three women to help remake and mend wedding dresses for local brides and brides across the county. A thoughtful insight into learning to make do and helping others in horrible times.

Peggi Carman, Craven-Pamlico Regional Library, Webmaster

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
A masterful recasting of “David Copperfield,” narrated by an Appalachian boy whose wise, unwavering voice relates his encounters with poverty, addiction, institutional failures and moral collapse–and his efforts to conquer them.

Pam Jenkins, New Bern-Craven County Library, Branch Manager

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell 
A super suspenseful, twisty, and original novel told by a podcaster who finds her “birthday” twin and becomes obsessed. Both women’s lives get entwined in each other’s and soon you are not sure who is telling the story and how the true crime podcast will end.  

Ay, Mija! My Bilingual Summer in Mexico by Christine Suggs
Charming YA graphic novel that details a young Texas girl who spends her first solo trip to stay with her Mexican grandparents during the school summer. All the angst about being a teen, learning to speak Spanish fluently, finding your own talents and interests, accepting your family and all their differences-themes in this book are beautifully illustrated. As you read about her journey, you also feel that you learn Spanish and enjoy the summer in beautiful Mexico City and eating all those Pan Dulce. YUM! 

This Other Eden by Paul Harding 
This small novel packs a powerful punch telling the story of a Maine island that was settled by an interracial family after the Revolutionary War. As the generations pass, the stories and characters build. The harsh climate, the hard scrabble life, the encroaching developers, and the racist societal laws smash onto their lives. The story leaves you with a haunting elegy to their way of life and survival on their island, their Eden. Harding is such a beautiful writer. 

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I: the Mother and Daughter Who Forever changed British History by Tracy Borman 
I recommend any of Borman’s books, but this one had me at Anne Boleyn. She connects Boleyn’s influence and leadership during the Reformation and explores her time in European courts of influential, scholarly, “feminist” noblewomen to Elizabeth’s striking leadership as the sole woman in charge of the ever-growing British Empire. We have always thought of Elizabeth as reigning in the shadow of her father, Henry VIII, but it is her mother, Anne Boleyn that deserves much credit to Elizabeth’s success.  

Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman 
Always a great storyteller, Lipman’s plucky but unlucky heroine is under house arrest in her NYC apartment. She lost her job as a lawyer, has to take money and advice from her bossy sister, and her neighbors don’t like her. But she soon finds another resident who is also wearing an ankle monitor, who may be a welcome distraction. Quirky and fun to read about how this thirtysomething turns her life around and gets some gumption. 

Amy Tattersall, New Bern-Craven County Public Library, Reference Assistant