Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 11/30/10
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As prolific a writer Stephen King is, he is most in his element when writing short stories. This latest has four stories that do not disappoint.
 
Liking to read short stories out of sequence from the order they are presented in a book usually produces a devilish fancy.
 
So skipping right to story #3 was the starting point. This one deals with a man making a deal with the devil to expand his current life expectancy; which is on a cancerous crash course.
There is another about a happily married couple that has shocking developments for the wife when she goes nosing around in the garage.
 
A mystery writer has a run in with a truck driver, the size of a semi, which leads to a turn in the road that is not found on Map-Quest.
 
King describes his latest work as harsh. The stories are gritty and not like anything he has written in the past.
Posted by emcinerney on 11/28/10
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In his newest book, David Sedaris looks into the world of animals and asks one question, what if animals acted like humans? Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a collection of stories featuring animals in human situations and their reactions. As in his previous books, Sedaris looks at the oddness of everyday life and the interaction we have with others. All of the wit and humor is there, but with animals as the main characters. My favorite story, “The Cow and the Turkey,” is about an curmudgeon cow who participates in the farm’s secret Santa program. Sedaris paints the picture of a scheming cow who tries to get the Turkey as his Secret Santa, as the cow figures the Turkey will not live to see Christmas anyway and therefore, will not have to get him a gift. All the stories are filled with Sedaris’s laugh-out loud humor, however, the stories take more a grim, bloody approach than in his previous works. Despite the graphic nature, the stories are relatable to anyone who has dated someone their family didn’t like, had to make awkward conversation with a hairdresser, or has ever received unsolicited parenting advice. As an added bonus, Sedaris’s stories are illustrated by Ian Falconer, who has done several covers for The New Yorker magazine. A must read for any Sedaris fan or anyone looking to laugh at the awkwardness of people.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/15/10
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It was not the subject matter of this collection of shorts stories that caught my attention so much as the array of authors which are included. Some of them are old favorites of mine, while many of the others are writers who have been on my "read them someday" list for years. For example, Italo Calvino, Ursula K. LeGuin, Alice Munro, and Ray Bradbury were all familiar to me, but I also enjoyed the story by Anthony Boucher, whose work I had never read before. All of the stories included deal with libraries or librarians in some way, but with vastly differing results. There are romances, and mysteries and some stories which defy genre. With all of the novels and non-fiction books I read, I seem to forget all about short stories. It is singularly rewarding to be able to follow a story start to finish in one sitting.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/15/10
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Imagine if Robin Hood was 6′5″ and could take on all of the Sherriff of Nottingham’s elite guard bare-handed and the outcome would be “…Chalk one up for the Good Guys…”? Jack Reacher is a modern day Robin Hood, on a smaller stage.
 
In Child’s newest edition, Reacher takes up from where he left off in 61 Hours. He is on his way to Virginia to meet a woman that he has only spoken to over the phone. While traveling through a remote Nebraskan town he stumbles upon a farming community that is being ruled by a band of bullies. These bullies own a fleet of trucks that the town’s farmers are mandated to use when they harvest their crops. The Duncans are comprised of three middle-age brothers and one son.
 
Reacher takes the Duncans head-on. They employ former Huskies’ linemen as their enforcers. To their dismay, the 300 lb. ex-athletes are no match for Reacher. While dishing out his brand of justice, Reacher gets hooked into investigating the 20-year old disappearance of a young girl. The case was never closed and is as cold as liquid nitrogen. Reacher learns of the unsolved crime while sharing bar-stool space with the town’s only doctor; the pickled version, not the sober. A cry of help is phoned-in to the doctor by the younger Duncan’s wife and Reacher volunteers to drive the slobbering physician out on his house call. She has been beaten bloody. Reacher learns that this is an everyday occurrence and the rest of the novel is Reacher reactions to domestic violence and child-abuse.
 
Having read all of Child’s novels, I found that this one compares to the fictional characterization of Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jackin 1971. Billy Jack was the protector of an Indian Reservation in Wyoming. He always seemed to banter with his villainous opponents before reigning great pain upon them. Reacher has several such scenes in this book. There is something almost poetic in a humble man’s weary warnings to the wayward just prior to the words being acted out.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/13/10
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In the long awaited sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone, Patrick Kenzie and his wife, Angie, are asked by Aunt Beatrice to once again search for her missing niece Amanda. It has been 12 years since Kenzie found the then 4-year old kidnapped daughter of drug-addicted Helene. He is still dealing with the guilt that he took a young child out of a loving relationship and placed her back into the hands of a living nightmare mother.
 
He discovers that Amanda has matured into a Harvard-bound teenager who displays a strong constitution, worldly wisdom, and is an expert at identity theft. Has Amanda been kidnapped again, this time by a Russian mobster, or is she simply orchestrating her plans to begin a new life away from the horrid one that she’s been subjected to for the last 12 years.
The current U.S. economy not only is affecting all in real-life, but also has forced Kenzie to seek some type of full-time employment with benefits that include health insurance. Angie is close to getting her graduate degree in education, but with their precocious daughter, Gabriella, requiring all the basics in life….food, shelter, clothing, etc.; Kenzie fears that the private-eye trade is no longer going to help him provide for his family.
 
This story appears to be foreshadowing of what the Kenzie’s lives will be in future novels. This time around Lehane’s emphasis is more toward modern families and not limited to his usual Boston-way-of-life themes. There is a great deal of conversations like those that take place everyday in homes around the world by parents and husbands and wives.
 
Bubba, the modern-day Michael-the-Archangel best friend of the Kenzies also returns. Wouldn’t it be grand if everyone was able to have as a godfather, a menacing man-child who shoots first and might get around to asking questions later?
 
There is doubt if this book will ever be adapted to film. There is not the usual mandated action scenes and intrigue sought in today’s popular mysteries; but rather a centered story about the importance of family, friendship and the work that must be put in those relationships in order to yield some assemblance of satisfaction.
 
Posted by mingh on 11/13/10
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On March 3, 1943, Londoners flocked to their local underground stations when they heard something that may have been a bomb falling or anti-aircraft fire. At the Bethnal Green station, 173 persons, mainly women and children, are crushed to death before they even reach the bottom of the stairs. An official inquiry was held and a report filed which did not become public for reasons of morale, until after the war.
 
The Report is a novel about the experience for some of the survivors and of the man who had to write the report. Kane used the official report and talked to the families of members who survived to flesh out what happened that evening. It was the single most devastating WWII casualty event unrelated to bombings in London.
 
The novel tells this story. Twenty years after the event, Lawrence Dunne, the man who completed the report is still haunted by what he learned during the inquiry. Peter Barber, a documentary filmmaker asks Dunne to be interviewed for the documentary. Dunne wonders if enough time has passed to tell the whole truth of what he learned, or should he continue to let the official inquiry stand.
 
A short but powerful book on the nature of shared catastrophe and forgiveness.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 11/12/10
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Nelson DeMille has had many great hits over the years, as well as some serious misses. His character of John Corey, the wise-cracking, attitude-impaired former NYPD homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force is definitely a hit.

John Corey is back in The Lion, once again playing cat and mouse with Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as “The Lion.”  Khalil unleashed a reign of terror and revenge in DeMille’s The Lion’s Game, with former President Ronald Reagan as his ultimate target. Corey, and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield (now his wife) chased Khalil across the country, dodging Khalil’s victims in his wake, until he disappeared just when they thought they had him cornered. Khalil has now returned to finish the job of revenge that he started. This time John Corey is the last name on his hit list.

Posted by jfreier on 11/12/10
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This is a good nonfiction book for those readers who generally don’t read non fiction. The author spins an exciting tale about Tsunamis, rogue waves , freak waves some exceeding 100 feet that seemingly come out of nowhere. The effects of global warming are touched upon but not in a biased or political manner.
 
The best parts of the book are the exploits of a band of big wave surfers led by Laird Hamilton and how they follow the weather that creates these monsters across the globe. I found this book exciting, fun and well written.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 11/05/10
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Would you cut off your finger to save the life of a complete stranger in a foreign and very hostile land?
 
Little Bee is the moving story of a seventeen-year-old Nigerian refugee of indomitable spirit who has escaped from her lovely, peaceful village under horrific circumstances. Upon arriving in England, she was immediately put in an immigrant detention center from which she escaped after two years. The only two people she knew in England were Andrew and Sarah, disgruntled British journalists she met on a Nigerian beach while they were on holiday. She arrives at their home hoping for sanctuary only to find that the terror that drove her from her home has followed her to their home.
 
Told alternately in the voices of Little Bee and Sarah, the book unfolds the stories of the two women to reveal an unlikely and unbelievable connection of terror and guilt. Cleave tells this story with no-holds-barred, balanced artfully with appropriate humor, empathy, and beauty. The basis for the story is a disturbing one focusing on the greed of big oil companies and failure of compassion for refugees throughout the world. But is in important book very worth the read. Check out this trailer as Chris Cleave discusses how he shaped the voice of Little Bee.
Posted by ahml1245 on 11/04/10
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Poolhall Junkies tells the story of a guy that was born to shoot pool. It highlights the differences between the life of pool professionals and hustlers. If you like to quote movies, then get ready for some of the finest writing ever created. Christopher Walken makes an appearance and gives a truly admirable performance. Of all the dramas that I have seen, this is definitely my favorite. There is a great mix of comedy into this amazing fill that captivates your attention from start to finish.
 
Don't be put off by the title. There's a lot more depth in this movie than others, such as the The Color of Money.
 
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