Staff Picks

All of these books are available at Cortland Free Library or through the Finger Lakes Library System. 

Abigail's Pick
The Goose Girl  by Shannon Hale 


  Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her
  aunt's stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up, Ani develops the
  skills of animal speech, but she never feels quite comfortable peaking with people.

  So when Ani's mother sends her away to be married in a foreign land, she finds herself at the mercy of her
  silver-tongued lady in waiting, who leads a mutiny that leaves her alone, destitute, and fleeing for her life.
  To survive, Ani takes on work as a royal goose girl, hiding in plain sight while she develops her forbidden
  talents and works to discover her own true, powerful voice.


Aimee's Pick
The Trauma Cleaner  by Sarah Krasnostein

         Homicides and suicides, fires and floods, hoarders and addicts. When properties are damaged or
  neglected, it falls to Sandra Pankhurst, founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning (STC) Services Pty. Ltd.
  to sift through the ashes or sweep up the mess of a person’s life or death. Her clients include law enforcement,
  real estate agents, executors of deceased estates, and charitable organizations representing victimized,
  mentally ill, elderly, and physically disabled people. In houses and buildings that have fallen into disrepair,
  Sandra airs out residents’ smells, throws out their weird porn, their photos, their letters, the last traces of
  their DNA entombed in soaps and toothbrushes.
  The remnants and mementoes of these people’s lives resonate with Sandra. Before she began professionally
  cleaning up their traumas, she experienced her own. First, as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the
family home. Then as a husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small
businesswoman, and trophy wife. In each role she played, all Sandra wanted to do was belong. 

Alizabeth's Pick
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare


  Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary,
  Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.
  Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the
  Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers
  as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey
  to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…


Georgette's Pick
Fear by Bob Woodward


  With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward
  reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and
  precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds
  of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus
  is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One
  and the White House residence.


Jaymie's Pick
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

     Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents,
  friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic
  post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.
  And then she was gone.
  Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter
  disappeared,  seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was
  unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel
  at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—
and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.  Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now,
the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew.  Where did Ellie go? Did she
really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? 
Who is Floyd, really? And why does hisdaughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?

Kit's Pick
House Rules by Jodi Picoult

    When your son can’t look you in the eye . . . does that mean he’s guilty?
  Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing
  himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject—
  forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he’s always showing up
  and telling the cops what to do. And he’s usually right.
  But when Jacob’s small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him.
  Jacob’s behaviors are hallmark Asperger’s, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police.
  Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob’s mother, Emma,
  it’s a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother,
Theo, it’s another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family,
 the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?                 

Larry's Pick
The Drifter  by Nick Petrie

 Peter Ash came home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with only one souvenir: what he calls his “white static,”
  the buzzing claustrophobia due to post-traumatic stress that has driven him to spend a year roaming in nature,
  sleeping under the stars. 
  But when a friend from the Marines commits suicide, Ash returns to civilization to help the man’s widow with some
  home repairs. Under her dilapidated porch, he finds more than he bargained for: the largest, ugliest, meanest dog
  he’s ever encountered…and a Samsonite suitcase stuffed with cash and explosives. 
  As Ash begins to investigate this unexpected discovery, he finds himself at the center of a plot that is far larger than
  he could have imagined…and it may lead straight back to the world he thought he’d left for good.


Linda's Pick
Finger Lickin Fifteen  by Janet Evanovich

Recipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head – literally.
Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop, Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie's Grandma Mazur. Enough said. 
Bring to a boil: Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?


Lois's Pick
Thomas Jefferson: the Art of Power by Jon Meacham

  Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him
  to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things
  —women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved
  America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation,
 survival, and success of popular  government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as
 Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of
 rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States,
 England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson
 as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.
 The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition,
and of the settling of the West,  Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity—and the genius of the new nation
lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown.
From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President’s House; from political maneuverings
in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at
Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age.
Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion. 

Steve's Pick
Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night.
  Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac's apparently random attack. 
  Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making – with a very needy baby and
  a very demanding husband – until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.
  Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases,
  startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .



Tammy's Pick
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

  Alaska, 1974.
  Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
  For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.
  Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man.
  When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska,
  where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
  Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate,
  stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better    future for her family. She is desperate
  for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means
  following him into the unknow.  At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers.
In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even
stronger women. The  long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
 But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture.
Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night,
Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

Theresa's Pick
Delisous! by Ruth Reichl

           Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s
  most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Gene, Billie feels like a fish out
  of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown
  food scene, especially by  Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends.
  Then Delicious! is   abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline
  for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.
  To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the
  magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky
  twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding
  of history, and a feeling of deep connection  to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires
Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.