Staff Book Picks

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Oct 24, 2013 by megana

A loving but dysfunctional Irish English family converges at the family homestead in London during the legendary British heatwave of 1976 when the dad goes out for the morning paper and never returns.  As abandoned wife Gretta worries about her husband’s whereabouts, son Michael Francis (two kids, failing marriage) shows up to help, and favorite daughter Monica (failed marriage, shaky second marriage with two dreadful stepdaughters) also drops by. Youngest daughter Aoife, who has fled to New York and been out of touch with the family for several years, also flies home.  As the family gathers and frets and bickers, multi-generational family secrets leak out and a kind of reconciliation is reached when they all decamp to the family’s summer cottage on the remote coast of Ireland. Check Our Catalog

Oct 21, 2013 by claytonc

Arthur Opp weights 550 pounds and hasn't left his Brooklyn Brownstone in many years. Kel Keller lives 20 miles north on the Hudson and is the poor kid in the rich school dreaming about a future as a professional baseball player. They are connected by Kel's mother, a former student of Arthur's. There are a lot of sad stories in this engaging novel, but it is not a sad book. Liz Moore adeptly spins the tale of the commonalities that bring disparate people together (and includes a serious dose of addiciton to keep it from getting too light). This novel is a favorite of book groups (and the edition I read concluded with questions to prompt book group discussions and a brief interview with the author). Check our catalog and watch the book trailer below if you need additional enticements.

Oct 15, 2013 by megana

Another entry in the crowded Nordic noir field—but this one actually has some humor (black humor, anyway). Detective Carl Morck is in charge of the cold case department in Copenhagen. In the midst of coping with various bureaucratic office crises, he receives a years-old message in a bottle (written in blood)—passed along by Scottish colleagues after being found along their coastline—that appears to be from a boy in life-threatening danger somewhere on the Danish coast. As Morck and his staff gradually decode the message, they find themselves in a search for a still-active serial killer whose next victims are already at death’s door. Check Our Catalog

There is a forest in our heads – soaring trunks and twining branches composing an entire interconnected system. A spark, a pulse, and the branches lit up as the message speeds past in less than a microsecond. This network of nerves, dendrites, axons, and somas make up our connectome. Similar to the genome, this new concept stems from the research of Dr. Sebastian Seung of MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Science Department. He has started an ambitious project to map all the connections between neurons – the nerve cells that are responsible for our every movement and thought. This lyrically written nonfiction book chronicles the origin, present studies, and future of neuroscience. Check Our Catalog

Oct 10, 2013 by claytonc

Questlove has achieved fame as the drummer for The Roots, a long-lasting instrumental hip-hop band that is also the incredibly virtuosic house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon televison show. Mo'Meta Blues, the very deftly written account of his life and love of music, is funny, smart, and a total joy to read. I would buy the soundtrack to this book and put it on heavy rotation if it were ever created.

Check the catalog and reserve a copy today!

Here is a clip of the author himself describing this book:

Oct 6, 2013 by megana

Looking for real Italian dishes that you really can make yourself? Look no further than the classic cookbooks written by Italian-born homemaker and cooking instructor Marcella Hazan, who died recently at the age of 89. As the Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss put it, "Her recipes prove what it takes to cook good food at the end of the long, hard day...Just a few basic ingredients, a sharp knife, and a good book."  Check Our Catalog

Sep 29, 2013 by megana

Robert Barnard's U.S. debut novel, A Little Local Murder, set the pattern for the many popular mysteries to follow: wryly funny and ingeniously plotted social satires disguised as English cozies (i.e. mysteries with picturesque settings, colorful local residents and not much blood or gore). Unlike many other bestselling mystery writers, Barnard varied his settings and characters, focussing on different communities and social types from book to book, and sketching well-rounded characters you wouldn't want for neighbors. Two of my personal favorites are Death of a Perfect Mother and A Scandal in Belgravia. Check Our Catalog for a more complete list of titles by this author, who died on September 19, 2013.

Sep 17, 2013 by megana

The main protagonist of this new psychological suspense series is therapist Frieda Klein, an unlikely and reluctant advisor to the police detective investigating the abduction of a five-year-old boy. The plot unfolds apace, linking the crime to an unsolved 20-year-old child abduction case, and to a current patient of Frieda’s with strange dreams that seem to coincide with details of both abductions. This is a really satisfying read with a directly related sequel called Tuesday’s Gone. Do not, repeat do not, read the second one first, or it will spoil the story. But once you have read Blue Monday, you will definitely want to read the next one! Check Our Catalog

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

© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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