Staff Book Picks

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James A. Garfield is a president that many of us forget.  His was also an assassination that many of us forget.  Millard tells the story of Garfield’s rise from rural poverty, to become a gifted scholar, Civil War hero, crusading Congressman, and finally President of the United States.  This book sheds light upon an extraordinary man, while offering the deranged mind of his assassin as a foil.  Check Our Catalog

Mar 30, 2012 by julier

Flynn Keirnan finds an odd 19th century photograph in a book bought at an estate sale.  She learns that it is a "spirit photograph" showing the victims and alleged murderer in the infamous Chicago "Free Love Murders" of 1875. The multilayered story is told in parallel tracks of the present day search for information and the events of 1875 as they unfold. Real life early feminist and advocate of Free Love, Victoria Woodhull, is called in to provide testimony for the accused, adding an interesting historical background to the story. Check Our Catalog

It is not easy to describe this one.  Our protagonist is a seemingly normal middle aged man who has just moved to a seemingly normal rural town.  Solomon Kugel has a lovely wife, and new son, and an elderly mother living with him in his newly purchased, sprawling farm house.  Apparently, he may also have Anne Frank living in his attic… Check Our Catalog

Mar 23, 2012 by julier

WWI widow Kate Shackleton has had some modest success locating missing soldiers in the years since the end of the war. Now an old friend from her days in the VAD has asked for her help.  Tabitha's father, the owner of a woolen mill, disappeared one day in 1916 and she refuses to believe he is dead and wants him at her upcoming wedding.  Kate uncovers much more than she, or Tabitha, ever bargained for in this mystery set amid the mills of England's Midlands. Check Our Catalog

Mar 23, 2012 by deirdres

In this tale of love and fate, two stories become entwined.  After waking from a coma with little memory of her past,  Jennifer Stirling finds her life as prop in her businessman husband's life disconcerting and uncomfortable.  Eventually, she finds some letters that indicate she was having an affair and that "B" was very much in love with her. Forty years later reporter Ellie Haworth stumbles upon some of "B's" letters and endeavors to find out the fate of these lovers. Check Our Catalog

 

Mar 22, 2012 by megana

Is Heathcliff (1) a tortured romantic hero or (2) an evil vindictive villain? If you've only ever seen the 1939 Merle Oberson/Laurence Olivier movie, you'll pick (1).  Read this classic novel and you might change your mind.  Whether you decide it's an over-the-top mythic romance or a pre-Freudian exploration of the psyche's dark side, Bronte's 1845 tale of child abuse, domestic violence, and social class prejudice will keep you reading until the bitter end.  Check Our Catalog

Welcome to Bangkok, an exotic land of love, drugs, and now human organ trafficking.  Royal Thai Police Detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep is on the case in Burdett’s fifth Bangkok novel.  Jitpleecheep’s boss is now running for public office and needs a good police scoop to help his ratings.  Burdett takes us away from his usual exotic and seedy Bangkok locales as Jipleecheep chases the bad guys to Dubai, Phuket, Monte Carol and Hong Kong.  Check Our Catalog



Mar 12, 2012 by jimj

The extraordinarily descriptive sub-title doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of this delightful adventure into the heart of the sea and all its mythmaking potential. Here’s the setup. On January 10, 1992 the container ship Ever Laurel, en route from Hong Kong to Tacoma, rolled violently and a shipment of 28,800 bathtub toys fell overboard. A rather mundane (and, as we learn, all too common) occurrence takes on a life of its own as a rather routine insurance claim becomes a media tale of epic (and more-or-less erroneous) proportions.  Hohn follows the trail of the toys from their humble metamorphosis as yellow polyethylene goo in China’s Pearl River Delta to seafaring icons.  It's all here: the science of hydrography, the chemistry of plastics, the history of childhood, the terrifying world Arctic exploration, the secret world of international shipping conglomerates, maverick environmentalism, and high tech oceanography. Hohn introduces us to a cast of intriguing and unforgettable characters and delivers it all in the sort of eagerly inquisitive, whimsical, self-effacing prose that will keep you fascinated to the very last page. Check Our Catalog



Leo Demidov returns for Smith’s third installment about the ex-KGB officer.  This book picks up later in Demidov’s life, after he has left the service and is fighting the ghosts of his past.  Demidov’s wife and adoptive daughters have gone to New York as part of a Cold War good faith mission.  What happens in New York changes his life and those of his entire family.  Smith has created a great character in Demidov and I hope this isn’t his last mission. Check Our Catalog

Feb 29, 2012 by megana

This suspenseful and eye-opening first novel takes you deep inside the wild world of rampant corruption and violent organized crime in the Mexican-American border area.  Valentine Pescatore is a U.S. Border Patrol Agent who ends up acting as a double agent inside a Mexican mafia operation. Leo Mendez is the head of an elite Tijuana police unit trying to take down the Mexican mafia while surrounded by bought-and-paid-for Mexican federales and politicians. This is not your average thriller. Check Our Catalog

Dr. Marina Singh is a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company in Minnesota. Her latest work-related task is to travel to the Amazon to find out how one of her colleagues died, and what progress, if any, another colleague has made in developing a new fertility drug. Rich descriptions and vivid prose make this book a stunning read--even if the subject matter sounds less than appealing. Check Our Catalog

Feb 23, 2012 by jimj

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." From "The Unexpected Party" in the Shire to "The Last Stage" home again we journey with the far-wandering Mr. Bilbo Baggins across Middle Earth as he is reluctantly caught up in the quest for unimaginable treasure. With thirteen dwarves the hobbit faces bickering trolls, evil orcs, terrifying Wargs, hideous spiders, deception and, finally, the dragon Smaug. Bilbo is chosen by the wizard Gandalf as the burglar necessary to complete the expedition to the Lonely Mountain. Though he feels like (and is often treated as) excess baggage Gandalf's choice is prescient. He reluctantly grows into his role aided by a magic ring--The Magic Ring as it turns out. This is a tale which grows in the telling. The characters are lifted out of fairy stories but their motives and emotions are complex and compelling. Read it again. For the seventh time. Check Our Catalog

Feb 23, 2012 by jimj

Hugo and Nebula award winner Haldeman's space opera trilogy (Marsbound, Starbound) arcs to its stunning conclusion. The god-like Others (for reasons only they can fathom) have destroyed the earth's moon and created a barrier to human space travel. Humanity pushes back and the Others turn off the power. All of the power. In the blink of an eye. Aircraft drop out of the sky. Telecommunication disappears. Civilization rapidly begins to unravel. A fast-paced plot and a resolution that may leave some disappointed, the tale is populated by well-drawn characters who meet adversity in ways heroic and otherwise. Check Our Catalog

Feb 23, 2012 by jimj

In her profoundly moving second memoir, Fuller returns to capture a lifetime of loss and failure in southern Africa experienced by her parents. Only somewhat forgiven by her mother for writing the excellent "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" (that Awful Book) we are the beneficiares of a ruthlessly lucid love story of a daughter for a mother who has Lived Life in Capital Letters. Hilarious at many points and horrifying at others, the tale follows Fuller's parents as they move from one catastrophe to another with the sort of relentless courage, energetic hard work and head-turning eccentricity required by those who are also incessantly alcoholic and politically out of step with the changes spreading across a war-torn region that is rapidly embracing the rule of the black majority. Check Our Catalog

Feb 21, 2012 by megana

This debut is more than a suspenseful psychological crime thriller. It's also an indictment of the way factory farming poisons rural America and a searing expose of violence against women, an everyday occurence conveniently denied and repressed by the residents of the small town of Haeden, N.Y., as it is by most of the rest of us most of the time. Check Our Catalog

Tina Fey is a great comedy writer, and this book is no exception. While there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, what made this book so enjoyable was the insightful, behind the scenes look at working for SNL, and Fey's Sarah Palin transformation, juxtaposed with Fey's struggle to be a woman in the male dominated comedy world and a working mother. Fans will enjoy this book, but it will appeal more to female readers. Check Our Catalog


Feb 17, 2012 by deirdres

If you're looking for a racy, behind the scenes rock n' roll chronicle this isn't it.  This engaging memoir by Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan is more of a reflection on his substance abuse, and overcoming it, with his life in music as a background. He spent his Seattle youth playing in various bands, surrounded by drugs and alcohol.  He was known for his drinking, which in some part he used as self medication for anxiety attacks.  After many of his friends started doing heroin and dying he made the move to Los Angeles and quickly met the guys with whom he'd form Guns N' Roses.  While achieving great success with the band, Duff sank into addiction.  His life was devoted to drinking and finding the drugs to sober him up enough to play that night's show.  Every day.  After a life-changing health crisis, he finds the strength to overcome his addiction without a 12-step program, through exercise, meditation and healthy eating. Check Our Catalog

In Whitehead’s post-apocalyptic thriller, the world is divided into two types:  the infected and the uninfected.  The world has been hit by a plague, but now it is receding and the uninfected are slowly taking back their cities.  Mark Spitz is a heavily armed civilian volunteer who is helping to eliminate remaining infected individuals.  He and his team are on the island of Manhattan cleaning out Zone One, trying to set up the base for resettlement.  Whitehead’s description of a devastated NYC is as frightening as the scenes remembered by his characters.  Check Our Catalog



Feb 13, 2012 by jimj

Starting pitcher for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991, Darling eloquently describes the beautiful cruelty of our national pastime. This is less a technical description of the mechanics and tactics of pitching (though you will find plenty of that, too) than an insightful and captivating exploration of what goes on inside the mind of the man who occupies this uniquely strategic position. Rich with fascinating anecdotes and notes on the subtler aspects of the game, Darling provides a marvelous expose on the inner life of pitchers. Great preparation for spring training! Check Our Catalog

Feb 10, 2012 by julier

Looking to get as far away as possible from Manhattan after the death of her husband, Anna Pigeon takes a job as a seasonal ranger at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on Lake Powell.  One day on a hike in the canyons she comes across three men attacking a woman; the next thing she knows she is waking up in a 20-foot deep hole in the ground.  How Anna saves herself from this predicament and others provides the back story for this long-running series character's decison to become a National Park Service Ranger.  As always, Barr provides a twisty mystery in a gorgeously realized setting. Check Our Catalog


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