Staff Book Picks

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Sep 3, 2013 by megana

Middle-aged lawyer Guido Guerrieri faces a perplexing case when a young woman accuses her ex-boyfriend—the son of a powerful judge—of abuse, and no witnesses are willing to testify on her behalf. This novel, and others in the Guido Guerrieri series, rise above the legal thriller genre; they are revealing and thought-provoking explorations of legal philosophy (Italian style), loneliness, love, trust and forgiveness. You will want to read them all. Check Our Catalog

Aug 19, 2013 by deirdres

It's like Aaron Hartzler was raised in an alternate universe. His memoir of growing up in a conservative Christian home was completely foreign to me, yet fascinating. No TV, no music except of the hymn variety, he was compelled to hide the fact that he was reading Neil Simon plays and listening to Amy Grant!   In his world a bad boy goes to the movies.  Hartzler presents his story in a straightforward manner that doesn't negate his parents beliefs, but illuminates his own burgeoning disillusion with them. There is no subject that doesn't come back to God in this family.  My favorite: "The lord wants you to wear socks" when Aaron tries to get away with wearing boat shoes without socks to church.  After being forced by his parents to transfer to an even more stringently religious school (with a seemingly less devout student body), Aaron is befriended by a popular basketball player who introduces him to his freewheelin' alcohol-drinking family, he has his first serious girlfriend and has the first inklings that he is gay. Check Our Catalog

Jul 6, 2013 by megana

On his way out of a Bangkok store laden with two full cans of paint, travel writer Poke Rafferty collides with a running man who dies in his arms, but not before muttering a name. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Briefly detained and questioned by the police, Poke soon finds himself on the run from several dangerous and mysterious characters as he tries to discover the identity of the murdered man and the reason for all the cloak and dagger behavior, in the meantime saving his own skin.  Under the rain-soaked Bangkok rocks (there's a major monsoon going on), Poke uncovers a world of Eastern and Western spooks that ties the Vietnam-era Phoenix Program to the 21st century global war on terror. This is the fifth Poke Rafferty thriller and now I have to go back and read them all starting with #1. Enough said! Check Our Catalog

Jun 22, 2013 by megana

Readers of politicial thrillers mourn the passing of author Vince Flynn, whose bestselling Mitch Rapp series started with "Transfer of Power" in 1999 and will end with "The Survivor" (to be published in October). Flynn originally began writing as a way of overcoming his dyslexia but after his first self-published novel, "Term Limits", went on to become a New York Times bestseller, he turned writing into a successful career. If you're a Robert Ludlum fan, or just love sizzling globe-trotting military/CIA thrillers, try taking a Vince Flynn book to the beach with you this summer! Check Our Catalog

Rating: 5/5 stars

The human population is rapidly accelerating to eight million, a total that far exceeds the carrying capacity of the earth’s limited resources. The solution? Descend into the nine circles of hell – Dante’s Inferno – and visit the lake that reflects no stars. There, a sleeping virus threatens to decimate the human race, to cull the population to manageable and sustainable levels. The ingenious geneticist who engineered this vector virus has committed suicide, leaving behind a frantic race to find the virus before it is released to the world. Robert Langdon returns to Italy as a guest of the World Health Organization, utilizing his knowledge of the classic Dante’s Inferno to follow the clues that Professor Zobrist left before his death. Will he reach the virus in time?

This novel masterfully blends breakthrough, modern genetic research with the macabre vibrancy of Dante’s journey through hell. A great read for teens and adults! Check Our Catalog

May 30, 2013 by briand

Before the summer blockbuster “Man of Steel” hits theaters on June 14th, be sure to pick up Superman: the High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Lexington native Larry Tye.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were young Jewish boys growing up during the Great Depression, and both had tragically lost their fathers. Together, with Jerry as writer and Joe as artist, they would create a modern day golem and forge a new American mythology. Their creation would experience an exodus from his native people and be raised by another culture, similar to Moses. He would possess the strength of Hercules and the speed of Hermes. He would be humble despite his powers and possess an unwavering moral compass. He would represent everything the young boys dreamed of being and everything they sought in a father figure. They would name their creation, “Superman”

What really makes  Larry Tye’s book shine is the detailed exploration of the rich history of writers, artists, actors, producers, and financiers that helped make the “Man of Tomorrow” as relevant today as he was during his debut in 1938. Each creative team would add unique ideas to the Superman mythos and would help extend the character beyond just comic books. But each creative team also experiences setbacks, from Fredric Wertham’s crusade against comics in the 1950s, to countless lawsuits by creators Jerry and Joe to the owners of National/DC comics, and the famously mysterious death of Superman T.V. actor George Reeves (as depicted in the movie Hollywoodland). This is a wonderful, well researched, and intimate trip for fans of Superman or the comic book industry. Check it out in our catalog before Superman hits the big screen again!

Rating: 4/5 stars

In the diaphanous mists, Gull sees the world crumbling in fire - the very pillars of civilization toppling with every battlecry. Through the carnage, she sees nine black ships bearing the revenants - the last of her people who are in desperate need for an oracle, the guiding hand of divinity to lead them to safety in a new land. Gull readily dons her veil and emerges as Lady Pythia, the goddess of death's handmaiden. From the abundant groves of Cyprus to the heady shores of hedonistic Egypt, she must chart a course for their ancestral homeland and keep the band together. Together with Prince Aeneas, she traverses the luminous world of the ancient Mediterranean in a vivid retelling of Virgil's Aenead that explores the themes of faith, family, and loyalty in a brilliant piece of historical fiction for adult readers. Check Our Catalog

May 21, 2013 by megana

It's 1960 and the Parsons family has landed in Great Falls, Montana, where an unanticipated criminal act blasts their family apart forever. For 15-year-old Dell and his twin sister, Berner, nothing is the same after their parents are arrested for robbing a North Dakota bank. 50 years later, Dell recalls the pivotal three months of his life when boring normalcy was turned upside down and he discovered the violence and moral chaos lying just beneath the surface of everyday life. You know whodunit right from the beginning; the suspense lies in the slow unfolding of a boy's confused and abrupt awakening. Check Our Catalog

In this graphic novel memoir, David Small chronicles his sickly childhood growing up in Detroit in the 1950s. Small is told he needs surgery to remove a cyst, but he wakes up without a vocal cord . . . and voiceless. He eventually learns he had cancer—a fact his parents kept a secret from him. The use of the images helps Small to capture his adolescent frustrations, his powerlessness, and his lack of voice better than just words can. This is a great book for both fans and novices of the graphic novel form. Check our Catalog

Apr 11, 2013 by briand

Have you have been looking for some inspiration to get you back out on the track and running now that all the snow has melted? Then “Born to Run” is for you! Author and marathon runner Chris McDougall sets out to find the reclusive Tarahumara Native American tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. Over the centuries, the Tarahumara have developed an almost super human ability to run ultra long distances without the need to rest and without incurring injuries, and they love every minute of it! Chris is joined on his journey by a quirky cast of American runners; “barefoot” Ted, who only runs without shoes on; Jen and Billy, a hard partying couple who always down plenty beers before a race; and the mysterious “Caballo Blanco” who is the only non-native person the Tarahumara seem to trust. Each member of the party seeks to unlock the secrets of the Tarahumara and ultimately put their skills to the test in a climatic race against the tribe’s best runners. Well written and well researched, pick up “Born to Run” and get out running! Check Our Catalog

Fourteen-year-old June loves medieval history, Mozart, and fine art. She’s not a typical teenager and she doesn’t have many friends. Her closest friend is her Uncle Finn. To her, he’s the only person who fully understands her. When Finn dies of AIDS, she feels lost and broken. Her mother is keeping secrets about Finn and her sister is mean to her for reasons June doesn’t understand. It’s also 1987, a time when the disease came with a stigma. Then June strikes up a secret friendship with a man who knew Finn well and perhaps knew him better than anyone else. This friendship teaches June some important things about love and compassion. This book was not published as a young adult title, but would certainly be enjoyed and appreciated by teens as well as adults. Check Our Catalog


Instead of studying fossils of long dead critters like any respectable paleontologist Fortey focuses on the survivors—“messengers from deep geological time”--that should not have survived at least 5 mass extinctions. There are the titular horseshoe crabs and velvet worms, of course, but also jellyfish, clams, bacteria and “slimy mounds” (stromatolites). And we must not forget the cockroach. Like a wise old grandfather who knows all things old and fascinating (and much more besides) Fortey guides us through 4 billion years of life. And when the journey is finished you feel enriched in a way that only good science writing can accomplish. Check Our Catalog

Mahlia and Mouse are refugees in a dark, dystopic future America. The relative calm of their war-torn lives is shattered when they discover a wounded bioengineered war beast named Tool hunted by a squad of young war boys led by a psychopathic lieutenant. Mouse is captured by the squad and Mahlia faces an impossible decision: risk her life to save a friend or flee to freedom. A fast-moving adventure tale of love, loyalty and changes of heart. Check Our Catalog

A delightful, witty investigation into the mysterious world of an ailment that touches every life on the planet on average four times per year. And the multi-billion dollar industry that repeatedly (and wrongly) claims to “cure” it. A gifted science reporter, Ackerman takes us deep into the places where the viruses begin their nefarious onslaught (the nose) and delights in relating the studies that debunk the curative effects of chicken soup, zinc, and various soaps and elixirs. But she also tells us what works. And how to avoid a cold (hint: children are germ factories). She even subjects herself to an intentional inoculation all in the name of science. If you’ve got a cold hunker down with this volume and enjoy the journey. Check Our Catalog

Former planet-hopping soldiers John Perry and his wife Jane Sagan have retired to administrative positions on a peaceful colonial planet when they entertain a visit from a former commander who makes a proposal: they are the perfect candidates to lead a promising colony of citizens from ten worlds in the Colonial Union. But after they accept things deteriorate dramatically as they discover that they are pawns in a galactic chess game. Loads of political intrigue and plot twists make this a satisfying denouement to a trilogy that began with Hugo award finalist Old Man’s War and continued with Ghost Brigades. Check Our Catalog

When 7-year-old Valentino Achak Deng, a Dinka living in southern Sudan, is forced to leave his village, his harrowing journey takes him through three countries, terrifying encounters with Arab militias, government bombers, wild animals and some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most challenging terrain. One of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino stands as an extraordinary example of a story that is equal parts bleak, lyrical, humorous and tragic. Even a resettlement in America brings is a bittersweet tale of social anomie and cognitive dissonance.  Beautifully written in the first person, this epic tale will instruct, illuminate and entertain from the first page to the last. Check Our Catalog

With a suitcase full of philosophy books Klein returns to the Greek island of Hydra to discover the secrets of aging graciously and gracefully. While the ancient philosopher Epicurus is Klein’s most important guide, the author seeks wisdom in a variety of texts. Looking back over a life in the fast lane he contemplates the uncommonly content lives of the old men of Hydra. Men with deep roots in the island’s culture and deeper friendships. A lovely, thin volume filled with pithy and gently provocative observations on a topic of interest to us all. Check the Catalog

Frank Money has recently returned from the Korean War, less two friends and with many emotional scars. He has no plans to return to his hometown of Lotus, Georgia, until he receives a letter that his beloved sister Cee is sick. Morrison's beautifully written novel is haunting and heartbreaking, but the New York Times nailed it when reviewer Leah Hager Cohen wrote that Home is "on the basis of its publisher’s description a novel, on the basis of its length a novella, and on the basis of its stripped-down, symbol-laden plot something of an allegory." Fans of Morrison will be pleased. Check Our Catalog

Jan 29, 2013 by megana

Who knew that going to church could be deadly? North Carolina in the mid-1980s feels very far away from the world of 21st century Massachusetts in this debut Southern Gothic novel about 9-year-old Jess and his mute older brother, Stump. When the boys spy through a window and see something they shouldn’t, the consequences are fatal. We hear the story from three disparate but convincing characters: Jess, the sheriff, and the elderly local midwife who has spent a lifetime observing and helping the townspeople. This book was so compelling that I almost missed my T stop… Check Our Catalog

Jan 29, 2013 by megana

It’s 1913 Vienna and Lysander Reif, a young English actor, is in town seeking psychotherapy for a very private sort of ailment. He ends up enmeshed in a passionate affair with an enigmatic woman he meets at his therapist’s office. When his lover’s live-in boyfriend finds out and becomes enraged, she accuses Lysander of rape and the story gallops away from there. Upon his return to London on the cusp of war, Lysander finds it difficult to return to normal life, breaks up with his English fiancé, joins up and gets pulled into the dangerous world of wartime spying. By the end of the story, he experiences the trenches of France and an encounter with a secret agent in Geneva, and in both cases his acting experience proves key to his survival. This novel provides a rich portrait of Europe during World War I and the ways in which ordinary people’s lives turned extraordinary. Check Our Catalog

© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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