Top 5 of 2015 – Part 1

It’s that time of year when the staff of Topsham Public Library reveal their Top 5 Picks of 2015. The criteria that a top pick must meet is pretty basic: the staff member has to have read it, watched it, or listened to it in 2015 and loved it. Click on the picture to find the item in the library catalog. Drum roll, please!


Emma’s Top 5:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

A121-o1kPHLBy the author of The Psychopath Test, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is an examination of people who have been vilified in public, often online, for different reasons and how they coped with the aftermath. In turns fascinating, terrifying and funny. This is a real eye-opener on the power of the internet, mob mentality and resilience.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

1000autThis was originally published in 2010 and I only got to it this year despite being a huge fan of the author. This is an epic book detailing the life and times of Dutchman, Jacob de Zoet and the people he encounters in his years spent as clerk on a tiny trading post island in Japan at the very beginning of the 19th century. What is astonishing about this novel is just how much you care about some of the characters. Mitchell puts them in real jeopardy throughout the course of the book, forcing the reader to hold their breath waiting to see if the characters that they care about will survive.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

ghostsI can’t say too much about this novel without giving too much away but if you were ever a fan of horror movies such as The Exorcist, Poltergeist or Amityville Horror or are aware of the current crop of paranormal ‘reality’ shows, then you will love this book. It is terrifying…but not for the reasons you think.


The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddle

sleeperI had read the story before, a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, in Gaiman’s short story collection, Trigger Warning, but it was Riddle’s illustrations that really caught my attention in this book. Rendered in black ink and accented in metallic hues, they are gorgeous, intricate and darkly humorous—just as fairy tales should be.


We Were Liars by e. lockhart

liarI couldn’t put this YA title down. Again, I can’t say too much without giving too much away. The book tells of a privileged group of teens who summer on a private island close to Martha’s Vineyard. To me, it was reminiscent of one of my favorite books, The Secret History by Donna Tartt.


Special Mention: You Have Never Been Here: New and Selected Stories by Mary Rickert


I’m only half way through this book. I started it after I gave Jen my Top 5, but I am enjoying it so much I had to add it to my list. Mary Rickert is a Shirley Jackson and World Fantasy Award winner, and her stories are the kind that I love to be immersed in and wish I could write. Her tales are uncanny and darkly dream-like yet portray humanity in all its beautiful and painful guises. Highly recommended with the caveat that she takes you to some very dark places.



Julie’s Top 5:



Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Mariller





Jackaby by William Ritter





Chew Vol. 1:  Taster’s Choice by John Layman





Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige





Undertow by Michael Buckley




Lynne’s Top 5:



State of Wonder by Ann Patchett





A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay





Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar





We Were Liars by e. lockhart





Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon




Linda’s Top 5:

The Cutting by James Hayman

cuttingThe set-up is familiar. Big city cop moves to a smaller New England town (Portland) to live a more peaceful, family-friendly life with his teenage daughter. A body is found in a local scrap heap: a star athlete with his heart cut out. The adventure begins as Mike McCabe and his partner, Maggie Savage, rush to find this cruel murderer before there is another grisly crime. This is a real page turner with lots of action and suspense. It’s not for the faint of heart.


The Truth of All Things by Kieran Shields

truththingsIt’s 1892 Portland, Maine, and the body of a young prostitute is found laid out to form a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. Deputy Marshall Archie Lean is assigned to the case. He is soon joined by noted criminologist, former Pinkerton Agent Perceval Grey, who is also half Abenaki. I love this book for its historical detail and the uniqueness of the story. The characters are engaging and realistic as is the setting.


A Study in Revenge by Kieran Shields

revengeThis is the second in the Archie Lean/Perceval Grey series. Something is definitely not what it seems when Lean finds the burned body of a man he knows was buried two days earlier. Once again, he seeks out his friend Perceval Grey for assistance. Mr. Grey, busy with his own case which also may not be what it seems, agrees to help. Could the two cases be related, and will they live to tell the tale? This is another great historical mystery that will take you on an exciting journey from the streets of Portland through towns to the south and all the way to Boston.


Sunset by Al Lamanda

sunsetEx-police detective John Bekker lives in a little trailer on the beach. Following the death of his wife and the institutionalization of his traumatized daughter, he hides in the bottle until one day he is kidnapped. John comes to a week later, all dried out, in the home of crime boss, Eddie Crist, who supposedly had Mrs. Bekker killed. Mr. Crist, now dying, wants his name cleared as he insists he was not responsible for her death. I enjoyed the fast pace of this book and the concise writing style of the author. The characters are well drawn and the relationship between John and his “next door” neighbor at the beach rings true. There is plenty of action, too.


Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

moriartyBeginning at Reichenbach Falls after the deaths of Holmes and Moriarty, Scotland Yard Inspector Jones and Pinkerton Agent Chase meet over another body found there. In his pocket is a clue to a meeting scheduled between Moriarty and a new American criminal who wants to take over London. Jones and Chase join forces to bring an end to this new and even more cruel menace to the city. Full of action, adventure, twists and turns this novel will take you on a ride. Written in the Holmesian style, this is the second mystery written by Horowitz that is sanctioned by the Conan Doyle Estate. It does not disappoint.



Mariah’s Top 5 (actually 6, but who’s counting?):

We Were Liars by e. lockhart (seems to be a popular title…)



If you have not read this book, then I am not allowed to say anything about it. Except READ IT!!! And then come talk to me about it!!!


The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo



Awesome world building, characters, just awesome all around. Be prepared to go without sleep if you start this series – it’s too good to put down! Also, you will be very very sad when you are finished because you will want to read these books forever!


Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte



Fascinating read, with some very interesting ideas for the future….



The Books of the Beginning Series by John Stephens



Possibly the best kid’s books I’ve read since Harry Potter!



The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero



A spooky and quirky read – another weird format book (I’m starting to think I just love books that are written in strange formats…)



Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea



If you like Elephant and Piggie (and who doesn’t like Elephant and Piggie???!?!?!?!) you should read this book! A laugh-out-loud picture book with a sweet message.



Dale’s Top 5:



Everest (movie)






The Martian (movie)







Mars Crossing by Geoffrey A. Landis






Super Mutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki




Meru (documentary)





Look out for the rest of our staff’s top picks in Part 2 next week!