Staff Picks

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Staff Picks

Looking for something new to read? Our staff are avid readers and provide recommendations each month.

This month our recommendations include adult fiction adult non-fiction, teen fiction and children's fiction reads.

The Darkest Sin by D. V. Bishop

Adult fiction

Picked by Marj

When Cesare Aldo investigates a report of intruders at a convent in the Renaissance city's northern quarter, he enters a community divided by bitter rivalries and harbouring dark secrets. His case becomes far more complicated when a naked man's body is found deep inside the convent, stabbed more than two dozen times. Unthinkable as it seems, all the evidence suggests one of the nuns must be the killer. Meanwhile, Constable Carlo Strocchi finds human remains pulled from the Arno that belong to an officer of the law missing since winter. The dead man had many enemies, but who would dare kill an official of the city's most feared criminal court? As Aldo and Strocchi close in on the truth, identifying the killers will prove more treacherous than either of them could ever have imagined...

See if The Darkest Sin is available or place a hold on our catalogue

Sea State by Tabitha Lasley

Adult non-fiction 92 LAS

Picked by Nikki

A candid examination of the life of North Sea oil riggers, and an explosive portrayal of masculinity, loneliness and female desire. In her mid-30s and sprung out of a terrible relationship, Tabitha quit her job at a women's magazine, left London and put her savings into a six-month lease on a flat in a dodgy neighbourhood in Aberdeen - she was going to make good on a long-deferred idea for a book about oil rigs and the men who work on them. Why oil rigs? "I wanted to see what men were like, with no women around." Sea State is, on the one hand, a portrait of an overlooked industry, and a fascinating subculture in its own right: 'offshore' is a way of life for generations of British workers, primarily working class men. Offshore is also a potent metaphor for a lot of things we might rather keep at bay - class, masculinity, the North-South divide, the transactional nature of desire, the terrible slipperiness of the ladder that could lead us towards (or away from) real security, just out of reach. And Sea State is, too, the story of a journalist whose distance from her subject becomes perilously thin. In Aberdeen, when she's not researching the book, Tabitha takes pills and dances with a forgotten kind of abandon - reliving her Merseyside youth, when the music was good and the boys were bad. Twenty years on, there is Caden: a married rig worker who spends three weeks on and three weeks off. Alone and increasingly precarious, she dives in deep. The relationship, reckless and explosive, lays them both bare.

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A Wizard's Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher

Teen fiction

Picked by Paige

Fourteen-year-old Mona isn't like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can't control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt's bakery making gingerbread men dance.

But Mona's life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona's city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona's worries...

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Blistering Barnacles: an A-Z of the rants, rambles and rages of Captain Haddock by Albert Algoud

Adult non-fiction 741.59493 ALG

Picked by Pam

A sparklingly funny celebration of Herge's most beloved character via his legendary exclamations! Captain Haddock made his first appearance alongside Tintin in 1941, and in the course of the 80 years that followed, has gone on to become one of Herge best loved characters. Clumsy, accident-prone, frequently intoxicated and almost always enraged, the Captain is perhaps best known for his colourful exclamations. 'Blistering barnacles' and 'thundering typhoons' have passed effortlessly from the pages of Herges comics into the public consciousness. This brand-new book explores in joyful detail the Captain's legendary tirades - and is the perfect way to discover, or rediscover, this extraordinary character and his unforgettable adventures.

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Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World by Philip Matyszak

Adult non-fiction

Picked by Sandra

The ancient world saw the birth and collapse of great civilizations. In mainstream history the Classical world is dominated by Greece and Rome, and the Biblical world is centred on the Hebrews. Yet the roughly four-and-a-half thousand years (4000 BC-AD 550) covered in this book saw many peoples come and go within the brawling, multi-cultural mass of humanity that occupied the ancient Middle East, Mediterranean and beyond. While a handful of ancient cultures have garnered much of the credit, these forgotten peoples also helped to lay the foundations of our modern world. This guide brings these lost peoples out of the shadows to highlight their influence and achievements. Forty-five entries span the birth of civilization in Mesopotamia to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, offering an alternative history focusing on the names we aren't familiar with, from the Hurrians to the Hephthalites, as well as the peoples whose names we know, such as the Philistines and the Vandals, but whose real significance has been obscured. Each entry charts the rise and fall of a lost people, and how their culture echoes through history into the present. Important ancient artefacts are illustrated throughout and fifty specially drawn maps help orientate the reader within this tumultuous period of history. Philip Matyszak brings to life the rich diversity of the peoples founding cities, inventing alphabets and battling each other in the ancient world, and explores how and why they came to be forgotten.

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Blood, Sweat and Steel by Curtis McGrath

Adult non-fiction available as an eaudiobook on Borrowbox

Picked by Sarah

In 2012, combat engineer Curtis McGrath was serving in the Australian army in Afghanistan when, in the line of duty, he stepped on a mine. Seriously injured but still conscious and aware he'd bleed out and die within minutes, Curtis, as the unit's chief first-aid officer, directed his comrades to apply tourniquets and administer an IV and morphine. Then, as he was stretchered to a helicopter, fearing he would never see his family again, he joked that he planned to become a Paralympian.

Just months later, he was up and walking on prosthetic legs, motivated by the opportunity to march with his unit in their welcome-home ceremony. Kayaking gave him a new sense of purpose, and in 2013, he and his father, Paul, paddled 700 kilometres from Sydney to Brisbane to raise funds for Mates4Mates, which supports current and former Defence Force members.

Passionate about the power of sport to transform lives, Curtis is ready at last to share his extraordinary story, and how he has approached every setback and challenge with courage, resilience, humour and grit.

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A Case of Misfortune by Sophie Cleverly

Children's fiction

Picked by Tracey

Violet Veil is ready for her next big case and with trouble afoot at the Grecian Theatre, Violet and her dog Bones are hot on the trail. But just who is the mysterious fortune-teller, Lady Athena, whose predictions keep coming true? Is it all just a case of smoke and mirrors? Or is there something more sinister going on...?

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Remember: the science of memory and the art of forgetting by Lisa Genova

Adult non-fiction 153.12 GEN

Picked by Wendy

In Remember, neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist Lisa Genova delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them. You’ll learn whether forgotten memories are temporarily inaccessible or erased forever and why some memories are built to exist for only a few seconds (like a passcode) while others can last a lifetime (your wedding day). You’ll come to appreciate the clear distinction between normal forgetting (where you parked your car) and forgetting due to Alzheimer’s (that you own a car). And you’ll see how memory is profoundly impacted by meaning, emotion, sleep, stress, and context. Once you understand the language of memory and how it functions, its incredible strengths and maddening weaknesses, its natural vulnerabilities and potential superpowers, you can both vastly improve your ability to remember and feel less rattled when you inevitably forget. You can set educated expectations for your memory, and in doing so, create a better relationship with it. You don’t have to fear it anymore. And that can be life-changing.

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