Staff Picks

AngelaSteal like an Artist
Steal like an Artist
Austin Kleon

Synopsis: Artist Austin Kleon's beautifully illustrated bestseller teaches readers how to use their surroundings and their own creativity to discover their own artistic paths. Filled with clever infographics and words of wisdom from Kleon, and peppered with quotes from other successful artists, Steal Like an Artist, is an inspiration for both veteran and aspiring artists everywhere.

Angela Says: Regardless of the type of art you create, this is an inspiring book to give you new ideas on how to approach life. It is a quick read and something to reread for reminders such as, “Always be reading. Go to the library. There’s magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.” Consider this for your Read More challenge in the category of First in a Series (his second book, Show Your Work! is available at Smith Public Library as well) or Book about an artist or art.

Angela's Past Staff Picks
The Night CircusDonna
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

Donna Says: Morgenstern’s lush magical tale is a sensory treat, so prepare to let the circus cast its spell on you. The novel conjures fantasy, mystery and romance within its pages and is so much more than the story of dueling magicians, Marco and Celia. Have your popcorn and other circus treats at hand and prepare to let your imagination wander within Le Cirque des Rêves. You may find yourself wearing black and white with a touch of red by the end of the book. If you enjoy this tale then try Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things or Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni. 

Donna's Past Staff Picks
Born a CrimeElizabeth
Born a Crime
Trevor Noah

Synopsis: Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Elizabeth says: Comedian Trevor Noah was born in South Africa under apartheid. So he was literally born a crime. He spent his first years playing mostly indoors and when in public his mom walked behind him pretending to be his nanny. Noah is a funny and charming writer with a truly unique story to tell. Can be used in the category of “Book by a comedian” in the Read More 2018 Challenge.

Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
Crooked HouseMegan
Crooked House
Agatha Christie

Synopsis: In the sprawling, half-timbered mansion in the affluent suburb of Swinly Dean, Aristide Leonides lies dead from barbiturate poisoning. An accident? Not likely. In fact, suspicion has already fallen on his luscious widow, a cunning beauty fifty years his junior, set to inherit a sizeable fortune, and rumored to be carrying on with a strapping young tutor comfortably ensconced in the family estate. But criminologist Charles Hayward is casting his own doubts on the innocence of the entire Leonides brood. He knows them intimately. And he's certain that in a crooked house such as Three Gables, no one's on the level.

Megan Says: Crooked house corrupts all within its walls. The house, with its grotesque and distorted features, really feels like a living breathing creature. I greatly enjoy Christie’s stylized writing. The plot and the mystery are always so beautifully thought out and delivered. This one will especially shock you when the murderer is finally revealed. 

Megan's Past Staff Picks

Death in D MinorNina
Death in D Minor
Alexia Gordon

Synopsis: Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, thinks she can rest during Christmas holiday from teaching at the all-boys’ school. Best laid plans. First, her landlord threatens eviction so he can sell the cottage to a hotel developer. Then her brother-in-law, an antiques curator in the area to examine a rare artifact, is blamed for the murder of the artifact’s owner. But in clearing her brother-in-law, she places a target squarely on her back.

Nina Says: The lovable mischief-making students of St. Brennan’s take a break from this second Gethsemane Brown adventure, and they, as well as Eamon, are sorely missed. Gordon makes up for their absence with an intriguing parallel of history lost driving the fast-paced plot. A different spin for your holiday read.

Nina's Past Staff Picks
The Dinosaur ArtistRandall
The Dinosaur Artist
Paige Williams

Synopsis: In 2012, a New York auction catalogue boasted an unusual offering: "a superb Tyrannosaurus skeleton." In fact, Lot 49135 consisted of a nearly complete T. bataar, a close cousin to the most famous animal that ever lived. The fossils now on display in a Manhattan event space had been unearthed in Mongolia, more than 6,000 miles away. At eight-feet high and 24 feet long, the specimen was spectacular, and when the gavel sounded the winning bid was over $1 million. Eric Prokopi, a thirty-eight-year-old Floridian, was the man who had brought this extraordinary skeleton to market. A onetime swimmer who spent his teenage years diving for shark teeth, Prokopi's singular obsession with fossils fueled a thriving business hunting, preparing, and selling specimens. But there was a problem. This time, facing financial strain, had Prokopi gone too far? As the T. bataar went to auction, a network of paleontologists alerted the government of Mongolia to the eye-catching lot. As an international custody battle ensued, Prokopi watched as his own world unraveled.

Randall Says: This is a fascinating glimpse into the world of modern fossil hunting. Williams’ thorough research brings to life the scientists, smugglers, and amateur collectors that must contend with international law - and each other - in their quest for new specimens. Recommended for readers of true crime and science writing.

Randall's Past Staff Picks

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300 Country Club Rd., Building 100 Wylie, TX 75098
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