Staff Choices

Posted by jfreier on 05/30/15
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Serial killer Marcus Flynn had been caught and shot in the head but lived and was called the Hangman. Detective Abbie Kearney wasn't working during his reign of terror but now after a daring escape from prison he is back and ready to strike again.
Abbie is leading a desperate manhunt in Buffalo to stop the madman as the body count mounts. The killer and Abbie match wits and the predator is as brilliant as he is elusive. Stephan Talty tells a thrilling and intense tale of the power of a masterful killer and what Abbie must become to catch him. The authors first book Black Irish is also a good read.
Posted by jdunc on 05/22/15
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Debut author Shanna Mahin offers a fascinating a peek behind the silver screen of Hollywood’s rich and famous or at least their B list stars in Oh! You Pretty Things. Jess is in her late twenties, divorced, and working in a coffee shop. As a former childhood actress herself, she is fascinated with Hollywood, but hides behind her sarcasm. She lives in an apartment in Santa Monica with her best friend Megan, a C list actress who is pretty down to earth. While trying to get her life on track, she is also dealing with her unreliable mother and the history of their tumultuous relationship.
Jess stumbles into a personal assistant job for a recluse composer which eventually leads to a job with Eva, one of Hollywood’s up and coming TV stars. Jess must cater to Eva’s every whim and mood swing. One moment she wants to be best friends and the next she ices her out. Mahin provides excellent descriptions of the crazy lives of the famous. I particularly loved the description of the show that Eva puts on when eating in public; onion rings, ice cream, etc. She takes one elaborate bite while people are watching and but will not eat for the rest of the day. Jess thinks being a part of Eva’s life will only help her, but she realizes that it is hard to have a real relationship with a professional actress.
Fans of the Devil Wears Prada, will appreciate a similar tale set in Hollywood.
Posted by bweiner on 05/17/15
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Transgender identity is currently a conspicuous subject in the media. There is a wave of individuals, famous or not, who are choosing to reveal their struggles and live their lives free from the veil of deception.
Laurence Anyways, the 2012 Canadian film directed by Xavier Dolan, tackles this complex subject with grace, dignity and humor. The story is set in Montreal in the late 1990’s.We observe Laurence as he discloses his lifelong desire to be a woman to his girlfriend, family, friends and colleagues, and the ensuing chaos this creates.  As if that was not enough, he endures the bigotry and ignorance of the community as he navigates his path to femininity in a very public way.
The misunderstandings he bears are tempered by the wonderful moments of compassion and enlightenment that sometimes come from the most unlikely sources in this film. Humankind’s adaptability to change is impressive.
Remarkable performances by the two lead actors, Melvil Poupaud as Laurence Alia and Suzanne Clement as Frédérique "Fred" Belair bring these characters into focus as people we know or want to know. Check out this superb film about a very timely subject. (In French with English subtitles)
Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/15/15
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Historical fiction that reads like a romance novel (a good one) with a bit of suspense thrown in. Everyone has an image of Edgar Allan Poe from his work and from the stories of his poverty, alcoholism and instability. But not everyone knows that much of his negative image was constructed by a literary rival, Rufus Griswold, in a posthumous biography.

In Cullen's well-researched novel she shows us a softer side of Poe. Cullen built a story around the rumour of Poe's affair with poet, Frances Osgood. Their forbidden love-match makes their lives a roller coaster ride of exultation and torture. They risk ostracism from the oppressive nineteenth century New York society to be together. I had a hard time picturing him being called "Eddie" by his wife and mother-in-law, but as the book progresses, the character becomes quite believable. Throughout the tense, forbidden romance there are plenty of factual tidbits from the lives of Poe, Frances Osgood and others of New York intellectual society.

This is a great read for fans of historical fiction, poetry, and literary romances.

Posted by lsears on 05/15/15
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Malcolm Brooks creates a stirring narrative set in the American West in the 1950s and weaves in a backstory set in Europe during World War II.
Catherine LeMay is a young archaeologist who made a name for herself in England. A large Montana power company hires her to conduct a canyon survey for a controversial dam project on reservation land.  She encounters prejudices for doing work traditionally associated with men and for her friendship with a young Native American Crow woman who faces even harsher inequalities. Catherine finds herself up against great abuses of power but finds an ally in a mysterious man named John H, a unique blend of horseman, former WWII cavalry soldier and artist.
Painted Horses has many things going on within its pages. It could have been very cluttered but the story flows well. Catherine and John H’s relationship develops as they navigate within this small community pitted against a big corporation. It highlights Native American issues and the value of ancient peoples’ historical sites in America and France’s Chauvet Cave. I found the telling to be both adventurous and bittersweet.
Read Painted Horses if you like elements of historical fiction, archaeology, the wide open spaces of the American West, WWII history, prehistoric French art, Native American Indian issues and if you’d like to read a new debut author.
Posted by Kelley M on 05/05/15
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Erik Larson, the author of The Devil In The White City, has an amazing talent for turning non-fiction events into spell-binding, detailed and entertaining stories.  His new book, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of the Lusitania, is no exception.  The great thing about Larson is you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy his books.  Larson does a great job of telling all sides of the story of the Lusitania, which was once deemed the world’s largest passenger ship.  Despite the seas being declared a war zone by Germany in World War I, the Lusitania continued voyages from New York to Liverpool.  The Lusitania was even outfitted by Great Britain & Cunard to be converted to a warship during wartime, if necessary. 
Larson helps you understand the story from a number of perspectives: passengers, the Lusitania ship Captain, President Woodrow Wilson and even the point of view of the German U-Boat Officer who was in charge when the Lusitania was torpedoed.  What never ceases to amaze me is how Larson is able to locate some of the facts that are included in his books and put it all together into something that makes so much sense. 
If you’re not used to history-filled non-fiction, I would suggest the audiobook version.  If you’re like me, you’ll want actual pictures of what Larson is describing, even though Larson's descriptions are vivid.  Good pictures can be found in the book The Lusitania: Unravelling The Mysteries by Patrick O’Sullivan, The Unseen Lusitania: The Ship In Rare Illustrations by Eric Saunders and the DVD Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  If you are out of Erik Larson books and need something to read before his next book comes out, you might want to try Jon Krakauer, Nathaniel Philbrick, Douglas Perry or David McCullough.
Posted by jfreier on 04/20/15
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The second mystery by Jorgen Brekke is an intriguing tale, with the discovery of a young woman with her larynx removed and on her body is an antique music box playing an old Norwegian lullaby. Chief Odd Singsaker back from medical leave takes on the case. The case connects back to a case involving the disappearance of Jon Blund the composer of the lullaby which occurred in 1767.
The case gets more intense when another girl goes missing and another music box is found. This begins a race to find the girl before she meets the same fate. Good second mystery following his debut "Where the Monsters Dwell".
Posted by bweiner on 04/15/15
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With reality shows dominating the television landscape, Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha is a well-timed novel that examines our obsession with fame and our desire to find the extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.
We first meet Eddie Hartley, the drama teacher at a boy’s prep school in New York City. Eddie once dreamed of making it big as an actor, but his minimal success determined his fate as an educator. He and his wife Susan are in need of money to support their attempt at in vitro fertilization after having no success with pregnancy, so Eddie resorts to selling a sex tape of him and his ex-girlfriend Martha, who is now a successful television star.  The tape goes viral, the wife and ex-girlfriend bond as exploited women, and a new reality show is born.
Eddie finally gets the fame he has been chasing, but at what cost?  Are reality shows responsible for creating frenzy, or do we generate their success with our overwhelming passion and response to them? Christopher Beha has written a spectacular novel that will thrill us with its hilarity while challenging our conceptions concerning the genesis of reality television. If you watch these shows or not, this is not one to miss!
Posted by Kelley M on 04/06/15
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Every time Michelle Moran releases a new book, I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Her latest book, Rebel Queen, did not disappoint. She has previously written historical fiction books about Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Cleopatra’s Daughter, Napoleon’s wife, and Madame Tussaud. Her newest book takes us to a whole different land and era. Rebel Queen tells the story of one of the most famous women of all time in India, Queen Lakshmi (India’s Joan of Arc) and the brave women soldiers (the Durgavasi) who protected her. The story is told from the point of view of Sita, one of Queen Lakshmi’s Durgavasi soldiers. Also interesting was learning more about the lives of women in purdah (the practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in seclusion by means of concealing clothing and the use of high-walled enclosures, screens, and curtains within the home).
I have always been of the philosophy that, if a novel of historical fiction is written the right way, it should entice me to further research the era highlighted in the book. Rebel Queen fits this theory. I found the first part of the book to be slow, but steady. The action and plot really picked up towards the last third of the book. It was definitely a read worth finishing. I can’t wait to see what female heroine the author chooses to write about next.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/02/15
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Looking for a new author?  Tony Schumacher's first book, The Darkest Hour, is one of the most impressive first-time author's novels that I read all year.  
The setting is London, 1946. The war is over. Unfortunately, the Germans won. John Henry Rossett was crowned by his king as "The British Lion" for his heroics during the war. He's a broken police detective with a tragic past. Rossett lost his wife and son to a terrorist bombing during the war. He's hired by the occupying forces to hunt Jews, place them on trains, and send them to France.  What happens to his captives is not his concern.  
What is concerning is that Rossett's no better than a machine . . . a tool. He does only what he's told.  He has no idea that he's being used for SS propaganda by his country's sworn enemy. What's worse is that Rossett could care less. It doesn't matter that he has no respect from his fellow Englanders. He has even less from the puppet masters that pull his strings. He's dead inside.
Then one day, for no apparent reason, Rossett rises from the dead. He finds a young Jewish boy hidden in an apartment wall and slowly starts his path to redemption.  
I couldn't put this book down. It's the fastest 400-page read for me in a long time; the beginning of a series that will rival Philip Kerr, has been born.   
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