Staff Book Picks

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Have you read all of our suggestions?  Maybe it is time to try one of the 'Best Books of 2011.'  The New York Times, always an arbiter of taste, has released it annual list of Best Books.  Whether you are looking for some good fiction or nonfiction, this is always an interesting and enticing list.  If you don't find anything you like, you can always turn to the Times' 100 Notable Books of the Year.

What is it like growing up the youngest of three brothers of a mixed race family in upstate New York?  At times it seems that it can be pretty dangerous.  Torres offers a short, quick stories that follow our narrator as he grows up in a family that teaches him to love, to fight and to survive.  Check Our Catalog

Dec 8, 2011 by cathyd

In this audiobook read by Johnny Heller, Nikki Heat--an interesting, tough and sexy New York homicide detective--is trying to solve the murder of a parish priest in a bondage club.  She is thwarted from investigating leads which leads her to a conspiracy inside the Police Department and a death squad trying to gun her down.  She is put on probation and has to turn to a non-policeman to assist her, writer Jameson Rook.

This is the first audiobook I've listened to in a long time that had me anxious to spend more time in my car and continue the story. Based on the TV Series "Castle", the characters are closely based on the series, but the story stands well on its own.  It is a fun and intriguing murder mystery with great twists, paranoia, and good comic relief.  The reader does a dead-on Nathan Fillion impression, and otherwise has a good acting voice to truly dramatize the text. Check Our Catalog

Inside the Citadel lies the oldest most important religious relic in the world.  It is greater than any relic ever recovered or revered by any religious faith.  And it is the world's greatest secret.  Toyne's book brings us inside the Citadel and into the secret sect that guards the relic.  The book begins with a very public death, which sends characters from different sides searching for answers.  This is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller.  Check Our Catalog

I finished with tears in my eyes; this one really got me. What wonderful, evocative writing, and what skill at conveying the tangled webs we weave for ourselves and one another. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2011 by julier

Emily, Lady Polbrook is dead, strangled in her bed and her husband, Lord Randal Polbrook left the house in a tearing hurry in the small hours of the morning.  No one in the household believes the Marquis to be guilty but with the Bow Street Runners looking for him they need proof of his innocence. Mrs. Ottilia Draycott, newly hired comapnion to the Dowager Lady Polbrook joins forces with his brother, Lord Francis Fanshaw, to solve the puzzle of who would have and, more importantly, could have murdered Lady Polbrook.  Very much a locked room mystery almost all of the activity takes place within the Polbrook townhouse. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2011 by julier

Detective David "Kubu" Bengu is called on to untangle the puzzle of a badly mangled corpse.  Hyenas have partially destroyed the body but there is no doubt it is murder, the victim's teeth have been knocked out, finger tips removed and most telling there is no vehicle near by in a spot where no one would venture on foot.  This is the first in a new series featuring an interesting cast of chartacters, a tricky puzzle to solve and wonderful setting.  I also enjoyed the second in the series, The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2011 by megana

Recently retired Benjamin Chaparro, a longtime deputy clerk in Argentina's judicial system, decides to write about an old case that began with the brutal murder of a young woman in 1968. Against the backdrop of Argentina's "Dirty War"of the 1970s, his story explores the nature of justice, friendship and love.  This is a page-turner that was made into an Oscar-winning foreign film with the same title.  The movie is good; the book is better. Check Our Catalog

Nov 28, 2011 by dorothyc

A high school English teacher is sent back to 1958 via a time travel rabbit hole located in a Maine diner. His objective is to stop Lee Harvey Oswald, but he must first make sure of Oswald’s guilt and that he acted alone. An incredibly entertaining novel, 11/22/63 asks what might have happened had President Kennedy lived. Check Our Catalog



Nov 27, 2011 by megana

Nothing is sacred to Barney Panofsky in this rambling, hilarious and ultimately sad fictional "memoir." Barney spares no one, including himself, in his version of events, from his years as a Canadian expat in Paris in the 50s, through his three wives and his career as a trash TV producer, to his involvement in the disappearance--or was it murder?--of his best friend, Boogie. You will laugh out loud from the beginning almost to the end, when the nature of Barney's own end becomes clear. Check Our Catalog

Nov 20, 2011 by megana

Set in the Scottish Highlands in the mid-1950s, this mystery features Joanne Ross, a typist at the Highland Gazette newspaper struggling to create a new life for herself and her two young daughters after leaving an abusive husband. Her personal connections to two men who turn up dead on the same day give her a chance to try her hand at reporting that challenges her loyalties. Great local color for those who love Scotland, plus a real sense of what it was like to be a woman in the post-war years before feminism had made much headway. Check Our Catalog

Nov 13, 2011 by megana

Another strange case for Paris police chief Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg involving vampires, political skullduggery and a troubled adult son he didn't know he had. The story begins in a meandering, vague sort of way with Adamsberg relying on his famous intuition as seemingly unrelated events come together and the suspense quickens. If you're already a fan of this intriguing and unorthodox French cop, you won't want to miss this latest title in the series. If not, start the fun with The Chalk Circle Man. Check Our Catalog

It's the end of days!!! In the not too distant future, robots have made our lives a lot easier. Robots can now drive our cars and fight our wars.  Fast forward just a little bit more and they gain intelligence and begin to turn against us. Wilson's book is an oral history of the rising of Archos, the leader of the computer/robot revolution, and the human reaction as they fight to stay alive. A great read that will have you questioning just how much we rely on our computers.  Check Our Catalog.

Nov 3, 2011 by megana

An absorbing and thought-provoking read, this novel explores a web of characters whose lives cross paths over the course of four decades, ending about 10 years from now. The two central characters are Bennie, a rock music promoter, and Sasha, his young assistant, but the story is told from multiple points of view and explores the lifelong echoes of chance encounters and the relentless impact of time passing. I'm often disappointed when I finally get around to reading an award-winning, critically acclaimed and popular title, because the work doesn't live up to the hype. Not so in this case. Check Our Catalog

Eve Weldon, a newly hired writer for a morning news show, is struggling to recreate the fabulous life her mother had in Greenwich Village in the 1960s. But Eve has few friends, trouble finding love and a ghost living in her apartment. And it's not the type of ghost that slams doors and tries to scare her away. No, instead it is the ghost of an almost, could-have-been famous Beat writer who demands Eve write his stories. The Ghost of Greenwich Village might fall into the chick lit/coming-of-age category, but it is incredibly smart and literary, and offers an interesting behind the scenes look at the production of a television show. Check Our Catalog

From the screenwriter who brought you Fanboys comes a debut novel with more 80s references than one person can handle.  Ready Player One takes place in the not too distant future.  This is a much bleaker future, where most of the world's population is now plugged into the virtual reality world of OASIS.  Cline's book follows Wade Watts and his OASIS avatar as he tries to solve the riddles left behind by the creator of OASIS.  This riddles will unlock a vast fortune and many obstacles stand in Wade's way, not the least of which is the ability to remember obscure 1980s trivia.  If you are the right age, this book was remarkable.  Check Our Catalog

Oct 28, 2011 by jimj

Connie Willis adds a seventh Hugo Award to her list of accomplishments with this diptych. Continuing a theme developed in The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, Willis imagines a near future (2060) in which Oxford University historians conduct field work by traveling into the past. The past in these two books (which are actually one story) is London during WWII. Content rich and detail heavy the read can be a demanding slog. But the strategy becomes clear when the time travellers begin to suspect that their seemingly benign observations may have inadvertently shaped the course of history toward the defeat of the Allies. Check Our Catalog

Oct 28, 2011 by jimj

Chester's Mill, Maine finds itself suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the outside world when a 20,000 foot high transparent dome descends from out of nowhere. Who created this situation and why are only two of the questions the increasingly desperate denizens of this beleaguered town have to address as King spins a yarn full of unlikely heroes, monstrous pretenders to power and nefarious doings beyond the known universe. Mayhem rules. But so does redemption. A fast paced tale populated with a great cast of characters both good and evil. Check Our Catalog

Oct 20, 2011 by megana

From his 1992 debut novel (A Firing Offense) to his latest effort (The Cut), George Pelecanos has proven himself a consistently fine writer of interesting, suspenseful, and thought-provoking literary crime novels. His milieu is the gritty underworld of Washington D.C. and his characters range from slackers to strivers, hapless criminals to amoral killers. His latest hero, Spero Lucas, is a recently returned Iraq veteran making a living as a private investigator who takes on a case for a jailed crime boss. If you haven't picked up a Pelecanos novel yet, you could start with The Cut or any of his other titles--the guy can't write a bad book! Check Our Catalog

Oct 19, 2011 by deirdres

This book provides a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of many classic movies via the memos of producer David O. Selznick.  A notorious micromanager, Selznick had plenty to say about casting, costumes, dialog and every other aspect of a film's creation.  Of course Gone with the Wind, his greatest success, is covered thoroughly, but there are plenty of other movies, including Rebecca, Duel in the Sun, David Copperfield, and people, Alfred Hitchcock, Jennifer Jones (his mistress then wife) that are given their due. Check Our Catalog


© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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