Sunday, June 5, 2016

Staff Picks: Best of Our Country

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:32 PM

The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati
Reminiscent of Kafka’s “The Castle”, this book brims with magical realism and vivid dream-like metaphors, all the while speaking of the dangers of passivity and how time can very easily ate away our lives, leaving us with nothing but disappointment.
Recommended by Marta (Italy)

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
“The Betrothed”, set in Lombardy during the 1620s, is the corner stone of Italian literature. The premise of the plot is set around a couple, Renzo and Lucia, who wish to marry but cannot due to Don Rodrigo’s threats. The best part of the story are its characters, mostly notably the nun of Monza, who was forced to join the religious order and bitterly resents it, and “the Unnamed”, a powerful and feared criminal who dreams of redemption.
Recommended by Marta (Italy)

The Green House by Mario Vargas Llosa
I formally learned about magical realism in a young adult literature class I took my freshman year of college. When I learned about what it was, I realized that that was the tool that Vargas Llosa employed in The Green House. Magical realism is very trippy, but so fascinating, especially in a book that takes place over forty years. It's complex, but it makes you think.
Recommended by Juliet (Peru)

The Time of the Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa 
This book, written in 1963, is based on Vargas Llosa's personal experiences at a military academy that he went to as a teenager. It is a negative portrayal, conveying the brutality of military violence. There's always something special about an author's first book, and I enjoyed the truth-telling in this one. Vargas Llosa is an exquisite storyteller.
Recommended by Juliet (Peru)

Seven Deadly Wonders (Jack West Jr #1) by Matthew Reilly
Matthew Reilly is my number one favourite Australian author, and has been since I was a lot younger and stealing these books off my older brother. He writes in a way that is like an intelligent, fast-paced Hollywood blockbuster, packed into words. All his books are amazing but this one stands out to me because it mixes a whole heap of ancient history and mythology in with an edge-of-your-seat adventure. I've read it about three times, so would recommend to anyone looking for an enthralling adventure!
Recommended by Rosie (Australia)

On The Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
My review: Melina Marchetta is a giant in the Australian YA world. In school, we studied some of her books and everyone had read at least one of her books. All of her characters have depth and complexity, and her writing draws perfectly on your emotions. It's set in a boarding school for kids who are troubled or neglected, and focuses around their territory wars with the other kids in town, the disappearance of a close friend of the MC, and the reappearance of a boy who knows a little too much about her. This book will rip out your heart and shred it to pieces, and you'll love it all the while.
Recommended by Rosie (Australia)

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This is the novel that I will always remember from my years in high school. I didn’t just recommend it to my friends, but also to my dad, and I later then studied it in my primary teaching lectures when focusing on teaching children about racial stereotypes. I also know when my nieces are old enough it’ll be on the list of novels I will be buying them so we can enjoy it together. That’s how much this novel means to me.
It follows Sephy; a cross; and Callum; a nought; who have been best friends since childhood. As they grow older, they realise that in their worlds the ruling cross’ don’t mix with the noughts and they definitely do not fall in love with each other. Can their growing relationship survive the prejudices as well as the rising terrorist movement from the noughts?
Recommended by Helen (Britain)

Cold Granite (Logan McRae #1) by Stuart MacBride 
McRae is a homicide detective in Aberdeen, Scotland, and the reason I have always loved this series is because MacBride has created the perfect, flawed cast. There are currently nine novels - the tenth one due out this year! - and two novellas to the series and MacBride keeps you hooked from beginning to end. With the tenth book due out, I’m itching to start my re-read just to fall in love with this team of detectives all over again. The added bonus? Due to MacBride being Scottish, the characters speak the dialect flawlessly. It doesn’t read to be too forced or out of place and I find it absolutely beautiful. Move over the cast of Taggart, there’s a new crime fighting team in Scotland and they’re here to stay.
Recommended by Helen (Britain)

Misery by Stephen King
You can't talk about Maine without mentioning Stephen King aka the most famous person ever to come from here. I still maintain he's the best horror/thriller author of all-time. Misery is quite a dark novel about a writer taken captive by his "biggest fan". It's primarily a character-driven story and it is done in a way which is absolutely captivating. Even if you've seen the movie adaptation, this book is worth a read--it's a classic!
Recommended by Melissa (Maine, USA)

Locke & Key by Joe Hill
Locke & Key is a graphic novel written by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son, actually!) and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez. When a pair of teenagers with ill intentions come looking for him at his home, Rendell Locke is murdered, leaving his wife and three children behind. They move to Rendell's childhood home, which is now owned by his brother Duncan. Unbeknownst to them, the house holds its fair share of secrets. This series isn't for the light of heart; it deals with themes like murder, trauma, grief, mental illness, and best of all it incorporates lots of supernatural goodness.
Recommended by Melissa (Maine, USA)


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