Staff Book Picks

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Set in England of some 1,500 years ago, Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who love each other deeply and care for each other as best they can, have reached the age when their memories have become unreliable, when names, faces and even events slip away. But the problems with memory and event are not just theirs; all the people in their community appear to be having the same difficulties. There is a mist that takes memories: good memories and bad, lost children, old rancors and wounds. Memories are valuable; they make us who we are. Axl and Beatrice set out on a journey to a nearby village to visit a grown son they’ve been neglecting. They meet other travelers with other missions, pasts and secrets, and eventually discover the source of the mist of forgetfulness that covers the land. At the heart of the novel is a philosophical conundrum: only those couples who can prove to the boatman that their love is perfect and true, without bitterness, jealousy, or shame, can cross the water together to the island of peace. Fantasy, historical fiction. and myth run together in a novel that’s easy to admire, respect and enjoy. It does what important books do: remain in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over. Check Our Catalog

Jan 7, 2016 by dorothyc

Based on the real-life Lizzie Burns, Irish rebel and helpmeet to philospher Frederick Engels, Mrs. Engels is a fascinating work of historical fiction. Gavin McCrea gives life to this little-known historical figure, portraying how an illiterate cotton mill worker became an influential figure in Engels’ and Karl Marx’s political circle. Lizzie’s wit and intelligence serve her well as she works her way up from the mills of Manchester to London society, and readers will enjoy Lizzie’s wry observations and no-nonsense voice in this first-person narrative. Check Our Catalog

Dec 29, 2015 by megana

On a dark and stormy night, Frances Thorpe encounters a one-car accident and exchanges a few words with the trapped and unseen driver before she dies. When Frances later discovers that the driver is Alys Kyte, wife of the famous author, Lawrence Kyte, she carefully turns this unplanned encounter into an opportunity to change her future.  Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell or Margaret Yorke, this psychologically acute debut novel is imbued with subtle unease as Frances worms her way into the Kyte family and the glamorous world they inhabit. Check Our Catalog

Dec 15, 2015 by claytonc

Caught the buzz yet about the new Syfy show The Expanse? It kicked off last night with a bang and is based on this great book. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant (of Game of Thrones fame). This is the first volume in a trilogy set in the near future, after humans have colonized Mars, the asteroid belt, and some of Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, but before we have left the solar system. Told primarily from the alternating perspectives of two men, an executive officer on an ice mining operation running the rings of Saturn, and a detective at the end of his career charged with looking for the daughter of some very wealthy parents. The girl disappeared in very suspicious circumstances that soon lead to an all-out war between Earth, Mars, and Outer Planet revolutionaries. Add to this mix a mysterious element that just might be biological warfare launched billions of years ago from life far outside our known system and you have a page-turning epic space opera. Check Our Catalog

Dec 11, 2015 by cathyd

Moses LoBeau is a spunky, independent, 11 year old girl being raised by the Colonel and Miss Lana in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. She would like to find her “upstream mother,” since she was found floating down the river in a hurricane as a baby, but loves and is loved by her unusual found family. When a murder occurs and her family is put into danger, Moses and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, start “Desperado Detectives” and attempt to solve the case. This book won a Newbery Honor Award for good reason. Funny and adventurous with some great colorful and memorable characters, it has realistic grit and a compelling narrative. I listened to the audiobook version, which is read very well with a great southern accent. Good for older middle schoolers and older - the adults will enjoy it with or without the kids. Check Our Catalog

It’s hard to imagine looking up into the sky and not seeing an aircraft speeding to some unknown destination. But a little over a century ago the only things in the sky were clouds, birds, and the occasional balloon. On a December day on the Outer Banks  of North Carolina two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio changed all that with the flight of the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. This is Orville and Wilbur (and sister, Katherine) Wright’s story as only two-time Pulitzer prize winning David McCullough can tell it. It is a tale of genius, mechanical ingenuity, incredible family support, courage and exceptional determination. McCullough mines a wealth of letters, diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks  to capture the human side of the beginning of powered human flight. Check Our Catalog

Dec 7, 2015 by megana

We read and read and read all year — all genres, for all ages, and audiobooks, too. Here are the books we loved reading the most this year. Some are old and some are new.

Dec 4, 2015 by claytonc

It's that time of year when we all add to our reading lists. Yesterday the editors of The New York Times Book Review released their top ten favorite books from 2015. Read their reviews here. Click on the jackets below for an annotated list with links into the library catalog.

Dec 2, 2015 by cathyd

The fourth and latest book in the Land of Stories series takes the half-magic twins, Alex and Connor Bailey, back through the Fairy Tale World and beyond. In search of the masked man that looks like their deceased father, and accompanied by the unusual and highly amusing group of Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Jack and Old Mother Goose (also known as OMG), they enter other worlds - Neverland, Oz, Wonderland, and King Arthur’s Britain. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of this, read by author Chris Colfer, a Golden Globe winning actor for his work in Glee. Colfer portrays his characters with such skill that you know who is speaking without being told. This book is funny and adventurous, appropriate for children, and interesting to parents. After he published the first in this series Colfer filmed a short Q&A about himself, which you can enjoy below and then Check Our Catalog

Nov 25, 2015 by eileenf

The feast is prepared, the guests have arrived - but there’s still time to sneak in a few pages of reading before it’s time to carve the turkey! Here are our suggestions of Thanksgiving-themed books. Even if you can’t make it to the library before the big day tomorrow, these recommendations make for good reading any time. After all, the themes of good food and family and friends coming together are always relevant (even if sometimes these gatherings result in familial drama). Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving from all of us at Thomas Crane!

Nov 24, 2015 by cathyd

This book sounds like it could be a very dry diatribe against the processed food industry, but I listened to the audiobook version and with the exceptional voice talents of Scott Brick (who also narrates Clive Cussler and Steve Berry thrillers) it is not only interesting, but extremely compelling. The author has extensively researched major companies, including Kelloggs, General Foods, and Coca-Cola, and lays out how they have become reliant on salt, sugar and fat. These three ingredients along with brilliant marketing campaigns have increased the allure and sales of their manufactured foods, fueling the American obesity crisis. Michael Moss is not unsympathetic to the industry; they are after all, just trying to make a living. He simply makes a STRONG case to read every label and educate ourselves about what we are eating, and why. Check Our Catalog

Nov 23, 2015 by eileenf

Curious about romance novels but under the impression that romances are usually pretty badly written? This is the book you should try. Featuring both strong female and male lead characters, our hero is a sexist football coach (who needs to be taken down a peg or two) and our heroine is the new owner of his football team. What makes this romance special are engaging subplots about the heroine’s complex relationship with her little sister and a madman plotting against our couple - in addition to an exciting (and steamy) love story! The added background makes us more engaged in our twosome’s struggle to connect, and it makes their eventual union all the more satisfying. (Note to new romance readers: The revelation that the pair end up together is not a spoiler. A primary characteristic of romance novels is that the couple must “live happily ever after.”) Check Our Catalog

Nov 19, 2015 by claytonc

When was the last time you picked up a magazine? I was at a newstand the other day and couldn't even find Rolling Stone - and when I was growing up I used to pour through every issue to see what I was missing! Did you know that you can get free access to tons of popular magazines through our parternship with Zinio? Not just the current issue either - lots of back issues to keep you entertained for hours! They've made some improvements to the interface lately too, so its even easier to enjoy all this fresh content. Check out the latest stories:

  • Everyone's talking about the Star Wars movie, coming out December 18! Geek out with Wired - it's their cover story for the December edition, available now!
  • The New Yorker just launched a weekend radio show. Did you know you can read it online too?
  • Is Jimmy Fallon having problems with cocaine and booze? Enquiring minds want to know. Read all about it in the November 23 issue of National Enquirer.
  • What's on Oprah's 2015 list of her favorite things? Find out in the December issue of O, the Oprah Magazine.
  • Curious about Adele's private life? She's on the cover for the November 19 issue of Rolling Stone.
  • Looking for 105 ways to devour the holidays AND cookies? Check out the December issue of Bon Appetit.
Nov 19, 2015 by claytonc

Yesteday, November 18, the National Book Awards were announced. Founded in 1950, these awards are intended to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.

The top winners in each category are:

This page has a complete list with short descriptions and catalog links of all of this year's winners, finalists, and close contenders in each category.

Here is a video of the award ceremony:

A superb chronicle of his career as an airline pilot, Vanhoenacker makes jet travel seem uncanny and intriguing all over again. He finds delight in clouds, airports, rainstorms, fuel loads, sky gates, fragments of jargon, lonely electric lights on the plain, suns that rise and set four times in a single daylong journey and the fanciful names of waypoints on flight maps. Neither heavy duty science narrative (Vanhoenacker wears technology lightly) nor breezy, anecdotal “tales from the cockpit”, this is an elegant, nonlinear reflection on how flying on a commercial airliner — even while painfully folded into a seat in coach — can lift the soul and inspire an awareness of the wonderfully improbable, of the state of “in-betweenness” in which air travelers routinely hover. My advice? Take this book on your next flight. Check Our Catalog

There has never been, and may never again be, a war at sea on the scale of the one that climaxed at Leyte Gulf in October 1944. It should be remembered for its individual acts of heroism and defiance, but more so for the blunders and misunderstandings that are inherent in war. Thomas brilliantly captures the fog of war in this compelling story of the battle that sealed Japan’s fate, sub-titled: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-1945. Check Our Catalog

Nov 9, 2015 by eileenf

If you’ve ever looked at your dog or cat and wondered about what would happen if they suddenly got as big and smart as you are, then this book may give you a few nightmares. (Note to self: make sure kitty has extra treats.) This entertaining speculative fiction novel has ants taking over the Earth and humanizing (so to speak) animals to make them soldiers in the war against people. Mort(e) is a cat who is haunted by the memory of Sheba, a dog he loved as a housecat, as he becomes a super solider. Can he find Sheba again and help the remaining humans live peacefully with the ants? Or will the interspecies war tear the planet apart? Check Our Catalog

Oct 26, 2015 by claytonc

The true story of the son of infamous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Born while Taylor was going to college in Boston, Chucky’s mom moved him to Florida in high school to get him out of some bad circles in Massachusetts. At the age of 17 he visited his father in Liberia during the fighting that preceded Charles’ assumption of the Liberian presidency and went from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. He led a murderous militia and was charged with the personal security of his father, which included running a clandestine torture and execution camp. Later in his life Chucky became the only American ever convicted (under US law) of torture and he is now in a federal penitentiary. Shocking, original reporting make this a book that is hard to put down. Check Our Catalog

Oct 23, 2015 by claytonc

Did you enjoy Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life? Then you have to read this book! The other evening I was drinking with a friend of mine who is an avid science fiction reader. He recommended this book and I in turn recommend it to you - even if you do not normally read science fiction. The basic premise is similar to the plot for the movie Groundhog Day, but so much more engrossing. Harry August was born in 1917 in rural England. His father will not accknowledge his existence, and his mother, who worked as a servant for his father, died during his birth. After a fairly long life, when Harry dies he is reborn in the exact same situation as his original birth, but after three years or so, all his memories from his first life emerge - perfectly. You can guess by the title just how many lives are the subject of this book. Harry discovers others like him and gets to experience many different aspects of life in the twentieth century. He falls in love, but this is not a romance novel. He grapples with quantum theory and ideas of parellel universes, but we only experience his timeline - any splits are not part of his, or our consciousness. Claire North is a pseudonym but a quick search will turn up the author’s name. She considers this book to be significantly different from her other work and wants it to stand alone, but you may well want to seek out more once you appreciate how great a story teller she is. Check Our Catalog

Oct 18, 2015 by megana

Having trouble staying awake? Start reading this book and forget about sleeping until you’ve finished it. This outrageously high octane thriller features a pair of rival European criminal gangs engaged in a murderous competition for market domination, a gang of disturbingly corrupt Swedish cops, and an innocent but complicit nurse (and her completely innocent teenage son) who gets caught in the middle. Check Our Catalog—and buckle your seat belt!

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