Staff Choices

Posted by jfreier on 09/26/13
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A great inside look at the 1992 legendary Olympic dream team, probably the greatest team assembled in any team sport. McCallum was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and had unlimited access to the team both on and off the court.
 
The off court exploits of Jordan, Barkley, Magic, Bird, Malone and the rest of the Dream Team is like hanging out with the Beatles and the Stones. Their late night card games, golfing, drinking and trash talking are legendary. The author also got to watch a scrimmage which some called the greatest pick-up game ever and also the greatest exhibition of trash talking fueled by a team led by Jordan against another led by Magic.
 
A great sports book, but fun and engaging for anyone.
Posted by Trixie on 09/24/13
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I am the second Antone Bazil Coutts, but I’d fight anyone who put a junior in the back of my name. Or a number. Or called me Bazil. I’d decided I was Joe when I was six. When I was eight, I realized that I’d chosen the name of my great-grandfather, Joseph. I knew him mainly as the author of inscriptions in books with amber pages and dry leather bindings. He’d passed down several shelves of these antiquities. I resented the fact that I didn’t have a brand-new name to distinguish me from the tedious Coutts line – responsible, upright, even offhandedly heroic men who drank quietly, smoked an occasional cigar, drove a sensible car, and only showed their mettle by marrying smarter women. I saw myself as different, though I didn’t know how yet.

Louise Erdrich’s The Round House tells the story of a Native American family living on a North Dakota reservation and their coping with the aftermath of trauma. Thirteen-year-old Joe narrates the events following the attack of his mother. The details of the attack are slow to emerge due to the stress his mother has endured and her unwillingness to reveal her attacker out of fear and complex circumstances uncovered throughout the novel. Joe and his crew of friends work to solve the mystery of who attacked his mother and why, hoping to feel a sense of justice and bring normalcy back to the Coutts family.

The Round House can be read in different ways. On the surface, it’s a page-turner about a terrible crime: sorting out the turn of events and uncovering evidence, identifying the criminal and bringing him to justice. It also provides insight into Native American reservation life. It highlights the strife between the Ojibwe and the surrounding white residents as well as the often unjust outcome of crimes that occur on reservation land due to jurisdictional confusion. Lastly, it’s a coming-of-age story. Joe is thirteen and is suddenly thrust into the adult world. Through his narration, readers experience his struggle with grownup issues like assault, criminal justice, and rebuilding after trauma while exploring the bonds of friendship, sense of self, sexuality, and experimentation with alcohol. Erdrich crafts a superb cast of characters, a rich cultural history, and colorful imagery to deliver a riveting tale. Those with a faint heart, beware. There is graphic content in this National Book Award and YALSA Alex Award winner.
Posted by bweiner on 09/18/13
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Take a step, if you dare, into the wild and wonderful world of author Margo Lanagan in her 2013 book of short fiction, Yellowcake. These absorbing stories allow you to keep one foot in the real world while you dangle precariously in the eerie, fantastical worlds she creates.
 
The people who inhabit her domain will look vaguely familiar; they could be anyone from your family. The circumstances of these stories are wildly unique, but the characters are all searching for the same connection and fulfillment in their relationships as anyone else. Some of the stories are dreamlike and surreal, while others are disturbing and unexpectedly tangible. The titles are enough to entice your curiosity: The Point of Roses, The Golden Shroud, and Catastrophic Disruption of the Head...
 
Short stories are a great approach to finding new authors without making a lengthy time commitment. Open yourself to the short story experience as you feel the passion and fervor from this gifted Australian writer.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 09/16/13
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In this allegorical novel by Nobel Prize Winner, J.M. Coetzee, a six-year-old boy called, David, and a man of nondescript age called, Simon, are brought together as refugees on a ship sailing to a new life. They are greeted with bland "goodwill" from just about everyone they meet. They are assigned their new names and given an allowance and an apartment. Simon finds work as a stevedore even though he is much older than the other workers. He feels inadequate to the task, at first, but the others accept him and his slowness and frailty with "goodwill". Simon is frequently frustrated with the lack of passion in everyone around him.
 
Simon feels compelled to find David's "real mother" by which he means, not the woman who gave birth to him, but the woman who is destined to nurture him. He picks Ines, a thirtyish, spoiled woman who spends her days playing tennis and lounging. Surprisingly, Ines accepts David as her son. She and Simon go through many difficult times trying to deal with each other but they both always put David above all else.
 
The childhood of Jesus is a complex examination of such a wide varieties of issues we all face, but it never seems ponderous or plodding. The story of the man and child is enough to keep the interest while the deeper topics are slipped in the narrative as discussions between the characters. It is a thoughtful book for a time of uncertainty.
Posted by dnapravn on 09/13/13
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Reading and traveling are two of my favorite things, so I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the book Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways by Terri Peterson Smith, which encourages combining the two.
 
Like pairing wine with food, traveling to the places you read about or reading a book set in your next vacation spot only enhances your experience. Whether you travel alone, with family, or with book club friends, this book is packed with creative reading and travel ideas.
 
Within the pages of her book Terri Peterson Smith describes fifteen of her favorite literary destinations. Each section provides an extensive reading list, made up of fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as excursion ideas. The excursions range from very simple to the more elaborate. She bases her itineraries on a three day trip but offers extension ideas. She even suggests hotels and restaurants. And if a getaway isn't in your plans, you can still enjoy her "field trip" ideas; local excursions that only require a couple of hours in or near your hometown.
 
All I have to do now is grab my book club, choose a book and begin planning our trip. I hope you do too!
Posted by bpardue on 09/09/13
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Waiting for the latest from Bryson, I opted for this 2010 delight. Having moved into an old English parsonage, Bryson goes through the house room by room and begins to wonder about just how domestic lives evolved into what they have become. In typical Bryson fashion, there's a lot of dry humor, saucy details and fascinating diversions. For example, a discussion about the dangers of the stairwell shifts into thoughts about many of the other things around the house that can kill us (and how dangerous paint and wallpaper once were). Thinking about the lawn leads to a brief history of gardens and public parks. If you're the kind of reader, like me, who often goes through a book in bits and pieces, rather than in a single multi-hour session, then At Home works well--its structure and parade of facts almost welcome occasional breaks. Available in book, CD audiobook, downloadable eBook, and downloadable audiobook formats.
Posted by Pam I am on 09/06/13
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Who wouldn't want an all-expenses-paid vacation at a luxury villa in Jamaica with old friends? In Sarah Pekkanen's fourth novel, The Best of Us, four college friends reunite in Jamaica to celebrate one of their 35th birthdays. But things are not as blissful as they seem. Each of the friends brings their own "baggage" to the island--a stressed out mother, a faltering marriage, and uncertain health. As a hurricane approaches Jamaica, the friendships turn turbulent as well. As the novel progresses, they each must resolve their own issues.
 
If you are a fan of Jennifer Weiner or Emily Giffin, this is a great book to read and explore women's fiction.
Chick Lit
Posted by crossin on 09/03/13
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If you enjoy spiritually inspirational and uplifting movies, you may enjoy our Spiritual Cinema Circle DVDs. This series includes a mixture of independent dramatic films, documentaries and shorts that explore spirit, morality and compassion. Many of the titles won awards at film festivals, but few were theatrically released. Some films featured include Shuffle, starring T.J. Thyne as a man who begins experiencing his life out of order; Happy, which combines real life stories from people around the world with insight from scientists about what really makes us happy; and Head Over Heels, an Academy Award-nominated animated short, about repairing a failing marriage. The library has a monthly subscription to this film series.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/26/13
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This is not only the 3rd installment in the "Joona Linna Mystery" series by the married, Swedish, literary couple, Lars Kepler -- it just might be the best.
 
Joona Linna is Sweden's version of Sherlock Holmes. He's fiercely independent, caring, headstrong, "never wrong" and always gets his man (or woman). This was evident in their premier novel, The Hypnotist. These characteristics were further supported in the sequel, The Nightmare. Joona is not only a brilliant investigator, he is a formidable martial artist who's trim, tenacious, and tragic. 
 
Almost 20 years ago, Joona sent his wife and young daughter away to protect them from evil-doers that were seeking revenge.  Joona has had no contact with either and longs for his lost loves. He has a soft spot when children are involved in his investigations. 
 
The Fire Witness is loaded with soft spots. A double-murder is committed at a home for wayward girls. The prime suspect, Vicki, only a child herself, flees the crime scene and while on the run, is suspected of kidnapping another younger child...a boy who is briefly left unattended in a parked car. It is not Joona's case, since he is on suspension for previous traitorous conduct. Joona is able to position himself as an "observer" where he proceeds to get emotionally involved in the hunt for Vicky.
 
Joona also proceeds to get into more trouble with his superiors by not following the conditions of his suspension. He enrolls the aid of a local "medium" who thinks she has seen the true killer. Her visions are discounted immediately by the unimaginative police investigators assigned to the homicide/kidnapping, but not by Joona, who never discounts anything.  
 
There are a load of suspects that are not discounted by Joona. In between his continuing search for his wife and daughter and that of Vicky and the boy hostage, Joona juggles his schedule for his suspension hearing and his ongoing romance with a fellow policewoman.
 
Lars Kepler in reality is Alexander Ahndoril and his wife Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. They create magic together and have a long, successful career in their future, and one doesn't have to be a seer to know that...just an avid mystery reader. 
 
 
   
Posted by jfreier on 08/22/13
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The latest novel by Chicago author, Marcus Sakey, is a great read and totally unlike his past work such as "Good People" and "Amateurs." The story is set in the present but reads like a futuristic science fiction book, it is about the rise of children who are born gifted, called the abnorms. The rate has risen and the government sets up an agency called DAR, Department of Analysis and Response. Told through the eyes of agent Cooper, who is himself is gifted, the gifts are specific and not of the super power variety like X-Men.
 
Agent Cooper's attitude about the gifted changes when he goes undercover to catch the dangerous abnorm, John Smith, whom the DAR has named the most dangerous terrorist in the country. It's a fast, thrilling story and, as I said, a complete departure from his other works.
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