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Staff Book Picks

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Aug 21, 2014 by megana

Little girls keep showing up dead--with bite marks on their bellies--in 1960s-era Florence, and world-weary 50-something Inspector Bordelli is tasked with finding their killer. This atmospheric novel really takes you back to a specific time and place that is palpably post-war 20 years after the end of World War II, with obvious scars remaining on both the physical landscape and on the psyches of police, witnesses and criminals alike.  Like many of his fictional Italian colleagues, Bordelli spends a fair amount of time sitting around and contemplating, eating spaghetti and drinking wine, but he gets there in the end.  Check Our Catalog

Aug 13, 2014 by jimj

The subtitle of this book (The true story of the inventors and airmen who led the devastating raid to smash the German dams in 1943) only begins to scratch the surface of this thoroughly researched, fast-paced story. It opens with the genesis of an idea and doesn't end until a post-raid analysis of the success and fates of its participants. In a 10-week span, Squadron 617 was created, special low-flying Lancaster aircraft were manufactured, 9,000 pound bouncing cylindrical bombs were designed to skip across reservoirs into hydroelectric dams, and flight crews were trained. This all happened under the cloak of absolute secrecy and with the sole purpose of hampering Nazi war production. The fruit of the labors of a brilliant engineer, the organizational efforts of a squadron commander, and the heroics of pilots and crews all combine in this authoritative account of an oft-told event for white knuckle history writing at its best. Check Our Catalog

Aug 11, 2014 by claytonc

It is very clear why so many awards have been bestowed upon this writer. This beautiful, heartbreaking novel is two love stories starring the same character, continents apart. Alternating between war-torn Uganda during the revolutions in the 1970s and the American Midwest which was undergoing its own cultural revolutions at the same time, “Isaac” is a lover, a student, and a truly remarkable man. This haunting work evokes a strong sense of place in both worlds. There is bound to be something familiar and something new for every reader of this work. This is not a romance novel, but rather a deeply emotional one. It explores the names we are given and the names we keep. Check Our Catalog

Jul 28, 2014 by claudias

Do you like thick (809 p.) inter-generational family stories full of historical details and drama? Read on - this novel is for you. In his research the author discovered fantastic historical street maps, drawings, paintings and models of the city of Paris in the Carnavalet Museum in the Marais and photographs from the Museum of Montmarte. He made use of these details to create an intimacy between the reader and this most beautiful and romantic of all European cities. We see Paris through the eyes of the noble family, the deCygnes and the revolutionists Le Sourds. The Gascon family helps build the Eiffel Tower and shows us the seedy underworld of the Moulin Rouge. Other characters give us a glimpse into the literary and artistic world of Paris in the 20’s. Rutherfurd’s style is often compared to James Michener, another lover of books that can be used as door stops based on their weight alone! However we have the advantage of e-books of which this title is available as well as his other tomes, e.g. London, New York and Sarum. Check Our Catalog

Jul 18, 2014 by deirdres

A group of vaguely unpleasant rich people on a vacation to Mallorca: adulterer Jim, food writer Franny, teen daughter Sylvia and adult son Bobby are joined by Bobby's 10 years older girlfriend Carmen, Franny's best friend Charles, and his husband Lawrence on a two-week vacation where secrets are exposed and relationships are changed forever. A quick, enjoyable read; I wanted to know how things would turn out, even though the characters are relentlessly spoiled and unlikable. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts are all part of the book's appeal. Check Our Catalog

Jul 15, 2014 by maryd

The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo has so many people raving about how awesome these books are; I had to give one a try.  This mystery is certainly entertaining but I am currently at page 485 and I am still waiting to get to the plot. It is a book I definitely could put down (though I know many who raced through it). The sexual violence can be a bit hard to suffer through. I am disciplining myself to finish it.  Check Our Catalog

Jul 10, 2014 by maryc

Desdemona Hart, an aspiring artist, is torn between her loyalty to her father's Shakespeare Theater legacy and her steady but unexciting husband, and the romantic lure of a fellow artist and a successful career in the big city.  These themes are set in the fictional town of Cascade in the 1930s as war clouds gather and the state of Massachusetts decides whether to displace the residents and flood the town to create a reservoir. Those familiar with the Quabbin Reservoir story will appreciate the parallels, and also appreciate that the author successfully weaves several different themes together to create an intriguing story. A moving first novel.  Check Our Catalog

Jun 30, 2014 by megana

Widowed and retired Major Pettigrew leads a quiet life in the small English village of Edgecombe St. Mary. That is, until he strikes up a an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Ali, the widowed Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. While their neighbors, friends, and family members look on mostly with shock and disapproval, these two lonely people from different worlds tentatively explore the possibility of a future together. I thought this might be an overly twee and sentimental story but it's more of a satirical romance ala Alexander McCall-Smith and the sharply humorous dialogue kept me laughing out loud all the way through. A very satisfying summer read! Check Our Catalog

Jun 30, 2014 by jimj

“Whatever else it was, it was one hell of summer.” That’s Bryson’s excellent summary of the epochal summer of 1927 with its captivating events (Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic; the invention of TV), outsized characters performing deeds heroic (the Babe's pursuit of home run glory) or dubious (Al Capone’s rule of Chicago), cultural faux pas (the popularity of eugenics and the heydey of the KKK), and just plain weirdness (Alvin Kelly establishes a new record by sitting atop a flagpole for 12 days). A wonderfully detailed, fast paced and delightfully humorous narrative of America’s arrival on the world’s stage. Check Our Catalog

Jun 20, 2014 by julier

The most intense Anna Pigeon novel to date (and this is number 18!), this thriller starts when our favorite National Park Service Ranger's short weekend camping trip with friends turns into a fight for survival against kidnappers. As with all Nevada Barr mysteries, the Minnesota wilderness is as much a character as any of the people. I seriously enjoyed this but you really need to be familiar with the other Anna Pigeon novels to understand how she deals with the situation. Check Our Catalog

Jun 18, 2014 by jimj

A man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He wanders into the farmstead of a friend from his youth, follows a path to a duck pond--which may be the ocean--and, begins to remember “everything.”  His friend’s grandmother may be as old as the world. His nanny may be a monster. The pennies in his piggy bank may be gold.  In this slim, provocative, terribly beautiful dreamscape of childhood Gaiman probes the vulnerability of youth, the power (and unreliability) of memory, the consolation of (written) adventures and fables, the logic of whimsy, and produces a masterpiece of imaginative world-building. Check Our Catalog

Jun 17, 2014 by claudias

If you’re a fan of Diane Gabaldon, and like big historical novels for the summer, here’s a great series for you. Okay it’s not as well written as the Outlander series, but it’s for the beach! The whole series is available as e-books. “Into the Wilderness" (the first of five books in this series) is the story of Elizabeth Middleton, an independent, strong-willed English woman who travels to America in 1792 to set up a school in 'Paradise', a primitive settlement in New York state. Her father has plans to marry her off to a wealthy settler and solve his financial problems. But Elizabeth is just as determined to realize her dream in the hostile new land and finds an unlikely supporter in a rugged Scottish trapper who is also an honorary member of the Mohawk Wolf clan. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk nation with these two outsiders torn between different worlds, this is an epic love story. A strong female character, an adventurous, handsome male love interest, backwoods survival, and some American history as background are what make this a fun read while you’re waiting to get Gabaldon’s newest book. Check Our Catalog

Jun 9, 2014 by jimj

Set in 7th century Britain, this coming of age story narrates the early life and young adulthood of the girl who will become abbess St. Hild of Whitby, whose advice was sought by religious and political leaders. Griffith’s telling evokes a richly detailed world that is so different from our own that it’s virtually alien. Born into a pagan world where power is often brokered by marriage alliances between kingdoms,  Christianity is on the rise. Hild’s preternatural observations of human nature and keen political acumen secure her place as her uncle, the king’s, seer and “peaceweaver”. Griffith’s tale demystifies history without robbing it of the magic that is the warp and woof of human interaction.Check Our Catalog

Jun 5, 2014 by maryc

E.A., short for Ethan Allen, comes of age in Northern Vermont and lives for baseball. So does the whole town of Kingdom Common.  They are all rabid Red Sox fans and have a replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster on top of the local baseball bat factory.  To say the least, E.A's upbringing is unconventional, yet in its own way grounded and loving. As he grows so does his love for baseball, especially when a talented drifter comes to town and becomes coach and mentor. The book was written pre-Red Sox World Series Championship wins. But if you remember those days, you can appreciate the state of mind and hope for a miracle when E.A. gets a chance to pitch for his beloved team. The author's knowledge of baseball certainly comes through as does his skill in drawing the picture of rural life and the quirky characters of a small town.  A delightful, sometimes comic, sometimes poignant summer read. Check Our Catalog

May 27, 2014 by claudias

She counted among her best friends the literary giants of the nineteenth century yet few people really know her story. Megan Marshall’s suburb biography brings her story to a new audience who will enjoy discovering the life of this strong vibrant woman living in a paternal and masculine world yet forging her own path. Margaret was H. Waldo Emerson’s confidante, Thoreau’s editor and the first female war correspondent for the New York Tribune. She experienced firsthand the Italian revolution of 1848-49 while becoming romantically involved with an Italian soldier. Her “questionable marriage “ to him and subsequent birth of their son add to the romantic yet tragic account of her last days within sight of America’s shores. Marshall says : “My aim was to bring Margaret Fuller into the wider arena. She’s been studied by scholars for so long, but her life is so compelling and dramatic. She deserves this kind of attention.” Any miniseries action? “I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say,” she says, “but there has been some interest.” Oh, and by the way it just happened to win the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Biography! ! Check Our Catalog

May 13, 2014 by jimj

New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Why do restaurants full of happy, attractive people usually serve mediocre food? Why is it difficult for consumers to see the real environmental costs of many of their decisions? Why is it common to find good ethnic restaurants in junky retail outlets? Where’s the best BBQ in the world? Why is airport (but not airplane) food getting better? Since food is a product of supply and demand Cowen helps us figure out where the supplies are fresh, the suppliers are creative, and the demanders are informed. A mouthwatering tour. Check Our Catalog

If Taylor Greer can manage to graduate high school without getting pregnant, she can manage anything. Ready for an adventure and a life better than what is offered in her small town in Kentucky, Taylor heads West in an old VW Bug. But before her car dies in Tucson, Arizona, and she begins her new life working at Jesus is Lord Auto Repair, Taylor becomes the one thing she worked so hard to avoid--a mother--after a stranger gives her a 3 year old. This is an awesome story with great characters, funny moments (and some heartbreaking ones), and a satisfying ending. Definitely worth checking out whether or not you are a fan of Kingsolver. Check Our Catalog

Apr 28, 2014 by claudias

The intimate lives and revolutionary ideas of Abigail Adams and her two remarkable sisters. We all know about “Remember the ladies” Abigail. This book delves into the other strong women in her world, sisters Mary Cranch and Elizabeth Shaw Peabody. Because the Adams were often abroad, much of what we know about Abigail and her sisters and the events happening in Boston are through their letters. It’s like having an ear to the door as each sister comments, advises and admonishes each other on everything from politics to husbands! Check Our Catalog

Apr 23, 2014 by megana

Did you ever wonder who scraped the mud off Elizabeth Bennet’s shoes, and boiled the mud stains out of her petticoats, after her tromp through the fields to visit her ailing sister Jane over at the Bingley’s house? No, probably not (I didn’t either, even though I’ve read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice many times). Turns out it was Sarah, the Bennets’ young housemaid who toils away washing the young ladies’ linens and hauling water while dreaming of a life of her own beyond the visible horizon, perhaps even in London. This fascinating novel stands just fine on its own as a captivating portrait of life below stairs among the housemaids and footmen working for 19th century English upper class households. It’s an especially intriguing read for Austen fans: the plot is tightly connected to the plot of Pride and Prejudice but the focus is on a different cast of characters with equally compelling stories. You will never think of the Bennets in quite the same way ever again. Check Our Catalog

Apr 22, 2014 by jimj

Flawed, alcoholic super ex-cop Harry Hole returns to Norway to take on his most personal challenge: Oleg, the boy he helped raise, has been arrested for murder. The detective’s investigations of Oslo’s seedy drug culture drives him to terrifying discoveries about himself and the implications of choices he has made in the past. Nesbo continues to serve up juicy plot twists and fascinating character development. Check Our Catalog


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