Staff Choices

Posted by roseh on 05/18/12
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Helen Allston and her daughter Eulah are enjoying all the perks their first-class passage affords aboard the Titanic.
Fast forward three years to Boston where Sibyl, the eldest daughter of Helen and Harlan Allston, and reluctant matriarch of the family, is attending an annual seance. This secret and somber affair is dedicated to communicating with departed loved ones lost on the Titanic.
Flashback to 1868 Shanghai where Harlan is a novice sailor trying to make a name for himself. 
From seedy back alleys and opium dens to the lavish lifestyles of the privileged upper class, this novel brings together three distinct settings to produce a vivid snapshot of life during the turn of the century.
Posted by rkong on 05/17/12
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One of my favorite directors for a long time now has been Steven Soderbergh. Everyone knows that Hollywood is tough, but director Steven Soderbergh is just one of those filmmakers who manages to find tons of success at the box office while also impressing the toughest film critics.
The other night I watched one of his more recent efforts called Haywire (2011), starring Gina Carano of MMA fame. From the looks of the trailers, I expected some mindless, yet entertaining, fast-paced action film, but I should have remembered that Soderbergh almost always marches to the beat of his own drummer and rarely delivers what you would expect from a big budget movie.
The movie was fine (definitely not his best in my opinion) but I honestly had a hard time focusing on it because I kept thinking back on an earlier movie of his called The Limey (1999), starringTerrence Stamp and written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote the screenplay to Haywire. Both movies, but more so with The Limey, take on this pace that just makes you feel uneasy if you're accustomed to the standard Hollywood blockbuster. Some might call it slow, or even boring, but I would disagree. I appreciate how Soderbegh takes his time developing the characters and revealing the world in which they go about their business. 
If you've already seen Haywire or plan to see it soon, I would recommend that you also take a look at The Limey and look for similarities between the two. Let me know what you think. 
And, if you have a favorite film by Soderbergh, leave a comment and tell the rest of us why.
drama, movies
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/09/12
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Vivian is a teen werewolf.  She recently lost her father, who was King of the Pack, in a horrific fire.  Her mother, Esme, is 40-going-on-18 and Vivian's closest competition for male attention.  Like any teenage girl who lacks parental guidance, Vivian is depressed and a loner.  All her male peers are beasts...both figuratively and literally.  It's tough enough for a teen to deal with puberty, yet alone the repercussions of full moon transformations.
One day Vivian's life is transformed when she initiates a conversation with Aiden.  He is a creative classmate.  He has a gentle soul and smile to match.  He has a group of friends that could rival any werewolves' pack.  He also, in the eyes of any card-carrying werewolf, is nothing but a meat-boy
Meat-boys are not meant to be friends or lovers of werewolves.  Meat-boys are meant to be meals. 
Vivian's struggles abound.  She fears what a relationship with Aiden might bring out in her.  She fears being shunned by her pack for crossing a line that is forbidden.  She fears that her family will retaliate against Aiden for her indiscretions. 
Add to the plot the murders of some humans that draw unwanted attention to the pack and a power-struggle for a new leader; and the reader gets the classic story of  forbidden boy meets forbidden girl...with some howling at the moon added for special effects. 
This book was adapted into a film starring Agnes Bruckner and Hugh Dancy.  It should be required reading for teens (or adults) that feel the constant pressure to fit into today's society. 
Posted by Pam I am on 05/08/12
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If you like Jodi Picoult books then Defending Jacob is a great choice for you to read! Andy Barber is the assistant district attorney living with his wife and teenage son. A high school student is found murdered in a local park and Andy is part of the investigation. Until, his son turns out to be the prime suspect. Andy is taken off the case and is torn apart fighting for his sons innocence. This book explores a family in crisis and makes you wonder what you would do in that situation.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 05/01/12
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Russian emigree Eva Delectorskaya was 28 years old, in Paris 1939, when her beloved younger brother Kolla was murdered.  At his funeral, Eva noticed a mysterious stranger, Lucas Romer, who was connected to her brother's tragic demise.  Knowing that Eva was fluent in several languages, Romer recruited Eva to replace her brother as a spy in his underground propaganda network called the British Security Coordination.  Eva underwent intensive training, and after a successful covert operation in Belgium she was sent to New York City.  Her operation there was intended to manipulate the American press to swing sentiment in the U.S. in favor of going to war.  The operation was compromised and nearly cost Eva her life. So she was forced to disappear and change her identity.

Thirty years later, Eva has transformed herself into Sally Gilmartin, a 60 year old widow, mother and grandmother living in the Cotswolds.  But in spite of her new life, Eva has never stopped looking over her shoulder. Convinced that her life is still in danger, she tells her daughter Ruth her story and in turn recruits Ruth to help her find Romer, the man whom she had loved years ago, the man who betrayed her.

Restless, an intriguing historical thriller, is somewhat based on an actual branch of British intelligence that was formed to coax America into WWII.  Eva's fascinating story is a great illustration of how even the most minor characters played significant and pivotal roles in the events leading up to WWII.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 04/26/12
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In Paris, France in the 1860's, Emperor Napoleon III ordered the vitual destruction of his city.  Neighborhoods full of history and nostalgia, charmingly winding their way through Paris were to be razed to make way for long straight boulevards designed by Baron Georges Haussman to modernize the city.
Rose Bazelet lived in her husband's family home on Rue Childebert since there were married.  Her beloved husband has been dead 10 years, but Rose still clings to cherished memories of home, family and friends.  She feels a strong loyalty not only to the house itself but to its tenants, neighbors, and friends. So much so that she writes letters to to her deceased husband, relating the destruction of their city, reflecting on their life together, and revealing an occasional secret that she has kept all these years.  Rose dedicates herself to saving the house and quietly takes a stand, moves to the basement,  refusing to leave, preparing for the eventual demolition.
The premise of this book may sound rather depressing, but it is beautifully and lovely written as only De Rosnay can write about her Paris. The House I Loved is really a love letter, not only to a dead husband but also to a Paris of 150 years ago.   This Victorian era Paris comes to life through the rich details of the book's characters and livestyles as well as of the streets of the city itself.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this book. 
Posted by jfreier on 04/10/12
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Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are back in "Robert Crais" newest thriller. Elvis get's a call from the mother of a missing girl who thinks her daughter is just run off with her boyfriend, when Elvis investigates he finds out that they have been abducted by professional border kidnappers.
Elvis and Joe set up a plan to free the young couple, but it goes awry and Elvis is Taken.
Joe enlists the help of one of his former black op friends Jon Stone, between the two they take on the lethal human traffickers.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/06/12
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Carl Hiaasen once again writes a book that a reader can really sink their teeth into.  The question is why  has it been categorized a Kid's Book?   It must be because it carries a PG rating.  This is textbook Hiaasen:  characters that are a tad off-center, witty dialog galore, and the setting in the Florida everglades. 
Mickey Cray is a loving husband and father, a professional animal wrangler, and a certifiable nutcase.   His doting son, Wahoo, loves giving his father a hand around their animal farm.  One of Wahoo's hands is sans  thumb thanks to Alice, the alligator, who one day was a little more eager to get fed by Wahoo than he anticipated.  Mrs. Cray has to take a short-term interpreter's job in China to help pay the bills.  Times are hard.
Hard-pressed for income, Mickey signs a contract with a network studio that produces the extremely popular TV series: Expedition Survival!  The star of this television show, Derek Badger, is battier than one of the bats that nearly bites off Derek's tongue while filming footage for an upcoming everglades' episode.  
Mickey and Derek are not a match made in heaven.  Derek, the supposed environmentalist, has total disregard for anything living.  His only concerns are having a massage each night in a posh motel that sports a hot tub in his suite and an abundance of chocolate éclairs at his bidding.  So totally out of control is Derek that he has to have his own personal wrangler....Raven Stark.  She has the undesirable job of being his production assistant and full-time baby sitter.  
Before packing up and traveling to the proposed filming location, Mickey and Wahoo sort of adopt Tuna, a runaway abused classmate of Wahoo's.  Tuna's mother is in Chicago.  She has escaped her drunken husband's beatings by leaving to care for her sick mother.  After receiving her latest black-eye from daddy dearest, Tuna decides that swimming solo upstream would be better for her health than remaining home.  Home is a trailer parked in the local Wal-Mart lot.  
As expected, there are production problems a-plenty betwixt Derek and Mickey that must be wrangled by Raven and Wahoo.  When Tuna's dad discovers her current whereabouts, the collision course among the three mental midgets is more dangerous than entering the Bermuda Triangle.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/03/12
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David Bledsoe is the author of two other successful series books; one about hip'n'happening vampires and the other about a sword-wielding private-eye from back in the day of noble knights and distressed damsels.  In this first book of his new series, Bledsoe spins a fascinating tale about the Tufa; descendants of a tribe of Irish fairies that immigrate to the Smokey Mountains years before Columbus discovers America.
The setting is the mountains of East Tennessee, Cloud County, where a wounded, recovering Iraq War veteran returns to her secluded home town.  She's greeted with an unwanted hero's welcome, a parade celebration and national news coverage.  Only wanting to lick her wounds and rejoin her loving family, Pvt. Bronwyn Hyatt becomes the government's current poster-child depicting their latest attempt to justify their involvement in a foreign war.
There is a foreshadowing of death.  Bronwyn's only defense is in the music that she once was able to create, that now she struggles to relearn.  She must learn to separate her past and forge a new future.
Bloodlines are very important in Cloud County.  There are two family factions.  Bronwyn is the first-born daughter of a first-born daughter, of a first-born daughter, etc.  Her gifts and talents are extremely special.  Music is the tie that binds the families.  It is the hum that defies description.  The power that the music emits is godly.  It is the shiver. 
Bledsoe creates a world of music, magic and mystery.  The characters are lovable and believable.  Reading this story will leave readers with a hum and a shiver.
Posted by Pam I am on 03/31/12
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I have never read any of the "Prey" series by John Sandford and thought the latest one might be as good a place to start as any.  Buried Prey is #21 in the Lucas Davenport series, but it didn't matter that I hadn't read the previous books in the series.  In Buried Prey, Lucas Davenport is haunted by an old unsolved case of two missing girls from the mid 1980s.  In present day, a house demolition results in the uncovering of the two girls bodies buried in the foundation.  This finding launches Lucas into re-opening the case and hunting down suspects and witnesses from long ago.  The writing and pacing kept me interested and this was a great introduction into the Lucas Davenport series.
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