Staff Choices

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 11/02/12
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"Spies, poison, and curses surround her . . . Is there anyone she can trust?"

The Kingmaker's Daughter is the fourth installment, and possibly the best so far, in Philippa Gregory's popular Cousins' War series.  Set in 15th century England, it is the compelling story of the daughters of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick - particularly Anne, his youngest. Warwick was an English nobleman, administrator, and military commander who was the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrat of his age, with political connections that went far beyond the country's borders. He was one of the main powerbrokers in the War of the Roses, and was instrumental in the deposition of two kings, which  earned him his nickname of "Kingmaker".  Since Warwick had no sons and heirs, he of course used his daughters as pawns in his political games of kingmaking.

One of Warwick's grand schemes was to win over the York King Edward's brother George, Duke of Clarence, possibly with the prospect of installing him on the throne.  George was secretly married to Warwick's oldest daughter, Isabel, and joined Warwick in a rebellion against his brother, the king. Eventually he defected back to the York side and realigned with his brother, King Edward.  So at the age of fourteen, Anne Neville's father married her off to Edward of Westminster, the son of deposed king Henry VI, in an effort to align himself with the Lancaster cause.  Long story short, Warwick and Edward of Westminster were killed in battle against King Edward, thus leaving Anne Neville a widow and without the protection of the wealth and power of her father, the aftermath of which was the struggle of King Edward and George of Clarence to gain control of Warwick's enormous wealth.  Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest brother of King Edward.  Very conveniently madly in love with Anne, they were married, thus taking care of half that fortune.  Richard had ever been loyal to his brother the King.  But George was put on trial for treason against his brother, and executed in 1478.  Five years later, Edward IV died, and his youngest brother became King Richard III, making Anne Queen of England.

There are several fascinating aspects of this story, one of which is to see her grow from a weak and powerless teenager to a strong and intelligent woman, in spite of her constant vulnerability.  Her rise to the pinnacle that her father had envisioned for her was marked by the tragic loss of everyone she loved, including her precious only son, Prince Edward.  It seemed as though her father's political ambition had rubbed off on her, however, which enabled her to stand up to the overwhelming power of the royal family and become a player in her own right in the kingmaking game.  As always, Philippa Gregory is spot-on with the historical details, creating a vivid picture of these important and turbulent events in British history. 

Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/01/12
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Mary from the Circulation Department shares her passion for baking with Violet from Digital Services. The two are both avid bakers and between them have enough cookbook recommendations to stuff your Thanksgiving guests to the brim with sweet goodness.
Click below to listen to the podcast.
Baking, Desserts, Food
Posted by jfreier on 10/27/12
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Kate Moore is a housewife who along with her husband Dexter and their two sons are living the American dream,until Dexter is offered a job in Luxembourg. Kate has to quit her job at the State department but the lucrative job and Kate's willingness to relocate set the tone for an interesting story.
Kate settles in to life in the only Grand Duchy left in Europe and the bond with fellow Expats from America, until she meets Julia and her husband Bill. The couple set alarm bells in Kate and we see that Kate's former life is not what we thought and maybe neither is Dexter's.
This book is an interesting thriller with a lot of twists and turns, some of which strain credulity but it is a change of pace from most of this genre, it also may appeal to woman who may not read thrillers, it may also appeal to readers of Olin Steinhauer.
spy thriller
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/23/12
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Billy Boyle is born in Boston.  He comes from a long line of Irish policemen.  Just when he gets promoted to detective, he is drafted into the Army.  There's a war on and every able-bodied man is needed.
Some men are more able than others.  Some are just better connected.  It turns out that Billy's uncle is Dwight D. Eisenhower, the  Supreme Commander - Allied Armed Forces - Europe.  Strings are pulled and Billy becomes a commissioned officer and sails for England to join his uncle's intelligence team.
Before Lt. Billy can become acclimated to this new country, yet alone being an U.S. Army officer, he's assigned (whether he chooses it or not)  to uncover a spy.  A spy who is imbedded somewhere in the Norwegian network that is planning the invasion to recapture their homeland from German occupancy. 
Billy's new teammates are a beautiful British WREN officer and her unlikely lover...a member of Polish royalty.
To convolute things further, a Norwegian officer commits suicide.  The more Billy investigates, the less he is convinced that the suicide was a well-disguised murder.
If readers like World War II historical fiction, then this book will be an entertaining quick-read.   
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/23/12
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Keigo Higashino is the author of The Devotion of Suspect X, one of my Top-5 picks for 2011 and the choice of AHML's most recent Mystery Book Discussion on October 8, 2012 .  This newest title is only the second time one of his works has been translated into English.  This mystery series is quite controversial and an internet sensation.  The main character is the "brilliant, yet eccentric physicist," Professor Manabu Yukawa, who has been called the Japanese Sherlock Holmes
Playing Watson to Yukawa's Holmes is the Tokyo policeman, Detective Shumpei Kusanagi.   Together the two team-up to solve the most improbable of the city's criminal cases.  One minor difference in the Sherlock Holmes comparisons is that the Tokyo team is a threesome.  It includes Kusanagi's keen-sighted and demure assistant, Kaoru Utsumi.  Kaoru brings the much-needed female perspective to the two bachelors' deductive-reasoning discussions.  
In The Devotion of Suspect X, a strain was put upon the personal and working relationships of Yukawa and Kusanagi.  When a case of possible suicide/probable murder is investigated by Kusanagi, his junior detective/partner begins to feel that her boss and mentor is crossing forbidden boundaries and falling for the main suspect.  Utsumi's only recourse is to enlist the services of "Detective Galileo", aka Professor Yukawa.  The author is a master at intertwining the brilliance of all three main characters. 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes story was written 125 years ago.  It was entitled:  A Study in Scarlet.  This book serves as a true testament that that style of writing is still popular today.   
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/23/12
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Karin Fossum is a very successful Scandinavian mystery writer.  The Caller, recently translated into English, was published in 2009.  It is the tenth book in her Inspector Sejer Mystery series.  It is the simple story of a set of childish pranks gone bad.
Johnny Beskow is anything but simple.  He is a teenager that has too much time on his hands and is emotionally disturbed.  His hate and loathing of his mother is just second to the respect he has for his grandfather.  This respect is based on the fact that Johnny's grandfather accepts the lad for who he is; unfortunately, the grandfather has no idea who the lad really is. 
Johnny is a vindictive prankster.  The pranks that he devises are so diabolical that even though no physical damage occurs, the psychological effect of his stunts is devastating and has the potential for long-lasting results.  The cruelty increases with each new attack. 
Inspector Sejer is a kindly old detective with the keen insight expected in a law enforcement agent who has seen just about every cruelty that man can conjure up.  His partner, Skarre, is a generation younger and less worldly.  Together they combine all their experience to solve the mystery behind the rash of devilish deeds that are turning a small town into "Nightmare City."
Several of Fossum's works have been adapted to film and TV in Norway.  The most famous probably is the 2007 adaptation of her novel The Girl by the Lake.  If interested, AHML has nine of her books and one DVD available for checkout.   Readers that enjoy mysteries that are shockingly realistic, but not gory, should take a stab at Fossum's collection.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 10/23/12
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This timely new novel by bestselling author Sandra Dallas is the very moving and unbelievable story of four British women in the Martin Handcart Company who made the 1,300 mile journey on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City in 1856 in search of the promised land.  Based on true events, this ragtag group of Mormon converts was the last group to make this harrowing trip.  Upon the urging of Brigham Young himself, two other handcart groups had successfully preceded them.  But by the time the Martin company left Iowa City, Winter was fast approaching and the hand-made two-wheeled handcarts stood little chance of surviving the treacherous, snow-bound trip.  Nor did the people who attempted the trip, facing -20 degree temperatures, starvation, amputations and death.  It's a miracle anyone survived!

True Sisters is an inspiring, yet depressing story.  The sheer strength, spirit and determination of the four women - Nannie, Louisa, Jessie and Anne - was the only thing that got them through this ordeal.  The caring, love and unselfish support they showed each other was truly inspiring.  There was little to smile about in the book, however.  It was difficult reading about the way these pilgrims blindly followed their leaders, resulting in tragic loss of life.  The children that died was particularly painful to read about. But the historical aspects of this book, particularly the foundations of the Mormon faith, is very interesting, shedding some light on the faith of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.     

Posted by Pam I am on 10/18/12
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Kim Stagliano is a nationally recognized autism advocate and speaker.  She is also the managing editor of Age of Autism, a daily web newspaper dedicated to autism. 
But, most importantly, Stagliano is in the unique position of being a mother to three girls that have autism.  Obviously, this is not the parenting life that she imagined, but she has embraced this new normal with a fierce sense of purpose.  She is sometimes controversial as she rallies against vaccines and mainstream medicine. Her writing is powerful, sometimes funny and filled with a sense of love above all.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/16/12
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Kel from Digital Services expounds on the virtues of Pinterest in a lively podcast discussion with fellow staff member, Violet.
Check out the book Teach Yourself Visually Pinterest to learn more and listen to find out how you can use this popular social media tool to enhance your life.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 10/10/12
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The setting is New York city in 1987.  The AIDS epidemic is rampant, and has personally touched the quiet suburban lives of 14-year-old June Elbus and her family.  June's beloved Uncle Finn, a famous but reclusive artist, has died of AIDS.  June's mother, who was Finn's sister, has forbidden Finn's longtime partner to attend the funeral.  Mrs. Elbus refuses to speak of this horrible illness that her brother has died of far too young, leaving June grief-stricken and desolate.  June was a very unusual teenager who fantasized about living in the Middle Ages. Typically dressing in long skirts and lace-up boots, she lugged around a copy of The Medieval Reader, and planned to be a falconer when she grows up.  She felt that her Uncle Finn was the only person alive that understood her and made her feel special. They shared many secrets and special places that they would visit together in New York City.  But when Finn died, June discovers an even bigger secret that her Uncle never shared with her - his partner, Toby.
Several days after the funeral, June receives a package in the mail - a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby asking to meet her.  After seeing Toby several times, June realizes that he is not the monster that killed her Uncle that her mother has made him out to be. He misses Finn as much as she does, and they form a powerful bond based on their mutual loss and unlikely friendship. From start to finish, with Toby's help, June emerges from a self-absorbed awkward teenager to a mature young adult who has come to understand much about the upside down world she lives in.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a beautifully written, very tender coming-of-age story, which is a first novel for Carol Rifka Brunt.  The author does a good job of conveying the mood of the 80s and the frightening specter of AIDS.  This is a  moving story of love, grief and renewal which will leave you thinking about it long after you've finished it.

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