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June/July 2017 Collection Spotlight

Here are some great titles for your reading and viewing pleasure as selected by the staff of Collection Development Services. Highlights include children’s books featuring a fiction story about a family vacation in Virginia where nothing goes as planned; a book about pirates; and, a book about the Grand Canyon’s geological history and ecosystems. Watch a documentary about the United Methodist Church debating LGBTQ inclusion, and a film about a group of students with varying sexual orientations that form an after school club to share their feelings and experiences. Teen fiction selections include what it’s like to live in war torn Uganda and another of life along the river in a magical fantasy. For adult fiction, a provocative love story full of power emotions and diverse protagonists and the return to the world of Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Nonfiction readers will learn about The Grim Sleeper serial killer in South Central Los Angeles, a homeless man and his stray cat, and how the alchemy of the air we breathe has influenced human progress. Our Spanish nonfiction selections include biographies of Mexican First Lady Angélica Rivera and another about the investigation into President Peña’s house in Las Lomas, Mexico.

Find more reading suggestions at Books & Media.

 As Brave As You book jacket

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Every once in a while I recommend the audio version of a story over the book version because of the excellence of the narration. This is one of those times. In this story of two brothers vacationing with their grandparents in the Virginia countryside, nothing goes as planned. Start with an outstanding story, add a remarkable narrator and you get one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to this year. Available in: eBook and eAudiobook.

Children's Fiction

 The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feard, Wrecked & Found book jacket

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feard, Wrecked & Found by Martin W. Sandler

A real pirate story and a real search for sunken treasure combine to create a story with double the adventure. Along the way, you’ll learn more about the actual pirates and the times they lived in. (Spoiler alert: They really didn’t say “Aaarrrrr”!) Available in: eBook.

Children's Nonfiction

 Grand Canyon book jacket

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin

For anyone, young or not-so-young, planning a trip to the Grand Canyon this summer, this book is for you. In a beautifully detailed picture book, you’ll learn about the layers, the geologic forces, the ecosystems, and the traces left behind by life forms no longer around. Then, when you get there, your appreciation of that wondrous canyon will be even greater. Available in: eBook.

Children's Nonfiction

 An Act of Love book jacket

An Act of Love

This gripping documentary follows Rev. Frank Schaefer as he was put on trial in the United Methodist Church for officiating his son's same sex wedding. This follows Rev. Schaefer's journey from small town minister to outspoken advocate, as well as the ongoing debate in the United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion.


 Geography Club book jacket

Geography Club

Russell is dating girls while nurturing a secret relationship with star quarterback Kevin, who hides everything from his teammates. Min and Terese tell everyone that they're just best friends. And then there's Ike, who can't figure out who he is or who he wants to be. Finding the truth too hard to hide, they decide to form a Geography Club, thinking nobody else would want to join. However, their secrets may soon be discovered.


 Soldier Boy book jacket

Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton, Ricky Richard Anywar

Follows Ricky from 1987-1991, and Samuel in 2006, as they are abducted to serve as child-soldiers in Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. Includes historical notes and information about Friends of Orphans, an organization founded by Ricky Richard Anywar, on whose life the story is partly based. Included in the text are portrayals of the violence of civil war including rape, torture, and abuse. Available in: eBook.

Teen Fiction

 Song of the Current book jacket

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Fearing the river god will not whisper her name in time for her to follow in her family's tradition of working on the river, 17-year-old Caro volunteers in the wake of a pirate attack to transport mysterious cargo to free her imprisoned father only to encounter a web of political schemes that force her to choose between two destinies. A fantasy debut set along the waterways of a magical world that's perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard.

Teen Fiction

 The Ministry of Utmost book jacket

The Ministry of Utmost by Arundhati Roy

A provocative love story that meanders through a spectrum of powerful emotions experienced by diverse protagonists, including a grieving father who writes a letter profiling the people who came to his 5-year-old daughter's funeral and two longtime friends at a guest house who sleep wrapped around each other like newlyweds. This Man Booker Prize winners’ new literary masterpiece is for fans of Garcia Marquez and Rushdie. Available in: eBook and eAudiobook.

Adult Fiction

 Beren and Luthien book jacket

Beren and Luthien by J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Alan Lee

An important chapter in the saga of The Silmarillion, first conceived by Tolkien at the end of his service in World War I, follows the romance between an immortal elf and a mortal whose worthiness is put to an impossible test. Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and stand-alone story. Available in: eBook.

Adult Fiction

 The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Woman of South Central book jacket

The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Woman of South Central by Christine Pelisek

In 2006, Christine Pelisek broke the story of a terrifying serial killer who went unchecked in Los Angeles for decades, killing the most vulnerable women in one South Central neighborhood. Two years later, in her cover article for LA Weekly, Pelisek dubbed him "The Grim Sleeper" for his long break between murders. The killer preyed on a community devastated by crime and drugs and left behind a trail of bodies—all women of color, all murdered in a similar fashion, and all discarded in the alleys of Los Angeles. The case of the Grim Sleeper is unforgettably singular. But it also tells a wider story about homicide investigations in areas beset by poverty, gang violence, and despair; about how a serial killer could continue his grisly work for two decades in part due to society’s lack of concern for his chosen victims; and about the power and tenacity of those women’s families and the detectives who refused to let the case go cold.

Adult Nonfiction

 Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America book jacket

Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America by Britt Collins

Homeless, alcoholic, and depressed, Michael King lives in a UPS loading bay on the wrong side of the tracks in Portland, Oregon. One rainy night, he stumbles upon a hurt, starving, scruffy cat and takes her in. Nursing her back to health, he names her Tabor and when winter comes they make their way across the West Coast - an inseparable pair - healing the scars of each other’s troubled pasts. Tabor comforts Michael when he’s down, giving Michael someone to love and care for, and inspiring him to get sober and to come to terms with his past family traumas and grief over the death of his life partner. But when Michael takes Tabor to a veterinarian in Montana, he discovers that Tabor has an identification chip and an owner in Portland who has never given up hope of finding his beloved cat, Michael makes the difficult choice to return to Portland and reunite Tabor with her owner. Now Michael must create a new purpose in his life after Tabor.

Adult Nonfiction

 Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us book jacket

Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean

With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. A work filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second. Available in: eBook.

Adult Nonfiction

 Soy la dueña: una historia de poder y avaricia book jacket

Soy la dueña: una historia de poder y avaricia by Sanjuana Martínez

This biography covers the life of actress-turned Mexican First Lady Angélica Rivera from her life as a young girl to the controversies surrounding her today. Esta biografía cubre la vida de la actriz Angélica Rivera, convertida en primera dama mexicana, desde su vida de niña hasta las controversias que la rodean hoy. Available in: eBook.

Spanish Nonfiction

 La casa blanca de Peña Nieto: la historia que cimbró a un gobierno book jacket

La casa blanca de Peña Nieto: la historia que cimbró a un gobierno by Daniel Lizárraga

Award-winning book about the investigation into President Peña’s ownership of a house in Las Lomas, Mexico and the subsequent attempts at censorship by the Mexican government. Galardonado libro sobre la investigación de la propiedad del presidente Peña de una casa en Las Lomas, México y los posteriores intentos de censura por parte del gobierno mexicano.

Spanish Nonfiction