Hilary's Picks

Hilary Emerson Lay

Hilary is our perky, garrulous, over-caffeinated, literature-loving, pink-haired Manager of eight years! Raised in a family of hardcore bibliophiles, Hilary received her BFA in Children’s Writing and Illustration from Emerson College; while at Emerson, she minored in art through Mass Art and the Museum School. When she’s not busy slinging books, Hilary enjoys pursuing her visual art, hanging out with her two cats and her hedgehog, and hitting up yard sales for weird things she doesn’t need.

When She Woke Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781565126299
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Algonquin Books - October 4th, 2011

This chilling, compelling novel is set against the bleak backdrop of a future America, where a plague has rendered most women infertile. The story opens with a young woman who has woken up in an entirely white room; every inch of her skin has been dyed red, and her every move is being broadcast live across the country. Her crime: she had an abortion. Her punishment: to suffer through traumatizing rehabilitation 'therapy' and live as a social outcast. As several reviewers have noted, this gripping novel is "The Scarlet Letter" meets "The Hunger Games." This would be an excellent book club pick and is appropriate for mature teens. The heroine is strong and smart and there is much to be discussed here.

In Zanesville: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316084475
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 25th, 2011

With dry wit and piercing observation, Beard writes about the relationship between two teenage girls in the 1970s--misfits whose friendship is tested by their families' claims on them, by a clique of popular girls, and by the first startling, subversive ...
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I Was Told There'd Be Cake Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594483066
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - April 2008

In this debut collection of 15 essays, 29-year-old Crosley displays the hysterical, self-skewering wit of David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs and Susan Gilman (Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress). From humiliating herself repeatedly in front of her first real boss, to accidentally releasing some of the butterflies at the museum where she begrudgingly volunteers, to a scathing exposé on what it’s really like being someone’s bridesmaid, this book had me laughing out loud, repeatedly and with enthusiasm.

The Hedgehog's Dilemma: A Tale of Obsession, Nostalgia, and the World's Most Charming Mammal Cover Image
ISBN: 9781596914773
Availability: Special Order
Published: Bloomsbury USA - November 25th, 2008

Initially assigned to research the success rate of rehabilitated hedgehogs into the British wild, naturalist Hugh Warwick soon fell head-over-bottom in love with these fascinating little creatures, of which I am quite fond (and not just because I have one as a pet!). From fascinating hedgehog facts (babies are born with a layer of fluid under the skin to prevent their spines injuring the mother) to the hilarious stories about the misadventures and mishaps of his little charges (which he has dubbed such names as Jimmy, Nigel and Dame Freya Stark), this book is a worthwhile read for nature lovers and hedgehog lovers alike!

In the Woods: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143113492
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2008

After hearing a number of rave reviews, I knew I had to read this, being a big fan of British murder mysteries.

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, despite both being relative new additions to Dublin’s murder squad, are handed the case of a murdered 12-year-old girl, whose mangled body was found sprawled atop an ancient sacrificial alter on the outskirts of a small village. Twenty years earlier, three children were playing in this exact spot when two went missing. The third child was found, bloodied and confused and with utterly no memory of what happened; his two friends were never located.

What only Detective Ryan and his partner know is that Detective Ryan was the surviving child, and he now must face ghosts from his long-buried past and connect the dots to find the killer.

French’s debut novel is utterly fantastic, as she deftly uses her haunting prose to weave together a troubled main character and a solid plot. Highly recommended.

The Raw Shark Texts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781847671745
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Canongate Us - April 2008

Eric Sanderson awakes suddenly and violently on the floor of his living room. He has no idea who or where he is, until he discovers a note that he has written to himself instructing him to make a phone call, get in the car and drive to see someone who will explain everything. Apparently this has happened before to Eric, but what this person tells him is an entirely different story than the one he tells himself through a series of notes and letters. While desperately trying to piece together his fractured past through “the first Eric Sanderson’s” stories, our narrator is whisked off on a surreal journey while being hunted by an existential yet completely real shark. Hypnotic, trippy and visually stunning. Unlike anything I have ever read.

The Lace Reader: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061624773
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - August 18th, 2009

Penned by a Salem author, The Lace Reader tells the haunting story of Towner Whitney, our self-confessed unreliable narrator, who must come back to her hometown of Salem, MA after her beloved great-aunt Eva disappears. Forced to confront ghosts of her buried past, the very troubled but incredibly strong Towner leads a cast of unforgettable characters through this riveting page-turner.

The Gargoyle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307388674
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - August 4th, 2009

Our once-beautiful and arrogant narrator has been recently burned, scarred, badly injured and bedridden by the time we meet his acquaintance in the first few pages of this sprawling novel. He is visited by an enigmatic stranger named Marianne, who claims that the two were lovers — not just in one previous lifetime, but over the course of many. Although at first our narrator thinks her mad (as do we), she nevertheless spins him fascinating tales about their pasts together, from young clandestine lovers in the Middle Ages to ill-fated Viking soulmates. The Gargoyle spans generations, eras and the boundaries of time and space; it is beautiful, haunting, magical and unforgettable.

Apathy and Other Small Victories: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312352196
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - June 26th, 2007

I can’t remember the last time I read a book so funny that it caused tears of laughter to stream down my face. (Max Barry, author of The Company, described this as “the funniest book I have ever read.”) I convinced all of my friends to read it simply because they got so sick of me calling them up to read them passages. They all loved it, too. I won’t even bother to try and summarize the plot for you; just do yourself a favor and let me sell you a copy. Or else I’ll call you up at midnight to read you passages. . .

The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307394934
Availability: Special Order
Published: Crown - September 2nd, 2008

Did you know that octopuses are notoriously bad at identifying one another’s genders, and will attempt to mate with any other octopus it sees? Or that cow burps account for 4 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions? These and other riotously fun animal facts are contained in this delightful gem of a book. Fascinating and hysterical to boot! Makes for great party conversation starters.

I Am Legend Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765357151
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - October 30th, 2007

In this richly visual yet sparsely-told novella on which the blockbuster movie is based, Matheson gives us a glimpse into the life of Robert Neville, the last living human on the planet after a rapidly-spreading virus either kills everyone else or turns them into vampires. The concept may sound cheesy, but Matheson’s descriptions of Neville’s extreme loneliness, desperate need to survive and cunning inventiveness with using what few resources he has at his disposal truly create a bleak and very real picture for the reader. And the ending is frightening.