Staff Choices

Posted by Pam I am on 08/18/11
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Silver Girl is the perfect book to read over a long summer weekend.  This book touches on friendship, betrayal, romance and redemption -- all against the backdrop of beautiful Nantucket.  Meredith Delinn is living a rich, privaledged life with her husband Freddy.  Then her world comes crashing down when Freddy is convicted of running a ponzi scheme and cheating his investors out of billions.  (ripped from the headlines of the Bernie Madoff scandal?)  Alone, and in hiding, Meredith reaches out to her long lost childhood friend, Connie.  Connie is also struggling alone as she recently lost her husband to cancer.  Connie and Meredith spend the summer at Connie's house in Nantucket attempting to rebuild their lives.  Slowly, the two learn how to embrace life again after loss.  Hildebrand also ties in a little romance with an old flame and a new flame.  There is a touch of mystery as Meredith has to help the feds recover some of Freddy's hidden money.  If you want an easy, entertaining book, this is a good choice.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 08/17/11
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Art Breen and his mother were abandoned by Art's father when he was just an infant. Mary Breen raised Art on her own until he was about 12 years old and she remarried to Ted McGann. Ted is a tough, manly drinker who is intimidating to delicate, young Art. Mary and Ted have two more children and lead a fairly happy life, even though Ted drinks heavily and is prone to violent outbursts. Art never quite fits in to the McGann family and is taken to a Seminary boarding school for high school. In the priesthood, Art comes into his own. He finds a way to relate to people that he never could access before. He still had a hard time dealing with men, but he found the women and children to be delightful and he delighted them. After a long, successful career at several different parishes, Art is in his fifties when he meets and befriends a young woman with a drug addiction. Kath Conlon has some serious problems and a neglected little boy. Art fears for the boys safety and for Kath's and offers free schooling for the child at the parish school. Kath is happy for the help, and Art arranges for a parishioner to get her a decent, cheap apartment. It comes as a great shock to Art and his family when Kath accuses him of molesting her son. As the story plays out, the accusation tests the faith of each member of Art's family, both in their religion, and each other.
 
Faith is written from multiple perspectives and spans several decades in the telling. Jennifer Haigh does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of the Irish Catholic experience in Boston. The honest analysis of the crisis of the pedophile priest controversy and how it has impacted the faith and futures of individuals and families is well-worth writing about. Definitely a thought-provoking story.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 08/16/11
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In 1944, at the age of 23, Marshall Stone was a cocky young U.S. Army pilot with nine successful missions to brag about when his B-17 bomber was shot down in a Belgian field, near the French border.  With German troops closing in to capture him and his fellow downed crewmates, he fled into the nearby woods. Miraculously, he was found right away by nearby villagers who hid him from the Germans.  The people who helped him were part of a network of French citizens, from all walks of life, who formed the Resistance, sheltering and moving downed Allied airmen through covert routes to return them to their airbases in England.  To these brave people Marshall owed his life.
 
Forty years later, newly widowed and retired, Marshall Stone returned to that crash site in Belgium.  The overwhelming memories from that experience drove him to stay in France and try to find the people who helped him, especially a vivacious young girl in a blue beret.  In his odyssey, he finds many of those people, all of whom had their own terrifying experiences during the war.  But none more horrific than the story of the young French girl who helped him and so many other airmen to escape the German soldiers.  His journey becomes a life-changing experience, helping him to find closure and a second chance at life.
 
Based on the true wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, author Bobbie Ann Mason writes a very authentic account of the French Resistance during WWII. The details and vivid narratives bring history alive for the reader.
Posted by jfreier on 08/15/11
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Join Radar Hoverlander and his girlfriend Allie Quinn as they start their normal life in Santa Fe after a life as con artists. Radar and Allie along with their hapless friend Vic Mirplo try to begin a quiet life in Santa Fe after their last con net them over a million dollars. The idea of retiring from conning is easier than it sounds, when Radar is stalked by a large woman who turns out to be his Father a legendary grifter who was never there for him but now needs his help. Radar and Allie and Vic head to Las Vega s to save dear old Dad and the scams begin. A funny and wild ride, I think fans of "Carl Hiaasen", "Tim Dorsey" and "Elmore Leonard" would enjoy this book, I would read his first book "California Roll' first as this is a sequel.
Posted by mingh on 08/15/11
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Dana Yarbro knows how to keep secrets. From the time she was born she was schooled by her Mother and Father that she is not to let people know about her homelife. She is the secret daughter of a married man. Even though her Mother made her Father cross the line into Alabama to marry her--they couldn't marry in Georgia because he was already married--Dana knew that she was illegitimate, no matter what her parents said. Even more troubling is that her Father has a daughter, Chaurisse, the same age as Dana.
 
The first half of the book is told from Dana's viewpoint up until her teens. Because they both live in the same part of Atlanta, the daughters apply to the same schools. But it is the legitimate daughter who gets all of the perks. For instance, Dana loves science and her teachers suggest she apply to the science magnet school to get the advanced instruction that will help her get into medical school when she grows up. But Chaurisse has also applied. So their Father asks Dana to withdraw her application. This continues to happen throughout Dana's life and it embitters her and her Mother.
 
The second half of the book is told from the viewpoint of Chaurisse, her Father's legitimate daughter, who is only a few months older than Dana. All of the lies that Dana's parents have told her force her into learning more about this other daughter. Her Mother has told her that Chaurisse is mentally a little slow, she is not attractive, and she will never do anything with her life. Dana needs to find out if that is true. But as Chaurisse tells her story, Dana learns its nothing like what she has been told both good and bad.
 
This is the story of family secrets and the ruinous effect on the children of having to keep these secrets. The story moves along at a fairly quick pace. The development of the characters, especially the daughters, is very good. You will know them and feel for the women they become.
 
Posted by cclapper on 08/14/11
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The Outer Banks  -- 1813 and Almost Today:  Raging storm at sea; a ship misled by pirates and brigands founders in the islands off the Carolinas.  Crew and passengers ruthlessly murdered, all but one who seems touched by madness, clutching a portrait.  Condemned to life on the island, scrabbling to survive, she is secretly Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr and wife to the Governor of South Carolina.  Her life depends upon the help of others.   Forward through time- to the days of her great-great-great grandchildren struggling through their own isolated island lives.
 
Island atmosphere and the shadows of slavery, past lives, and personal tradition flow like wind through this tale.  Strong characters, unusual settings and actions: a good selection for a book discussion group or personal reading.  Recommended by Nancy Pearl, superstar Librarian and frequent NPR contributor.  I was struck by this story.  There are depths to consider here.  It's something to talk about with friends.
 
Unusual.  
Bed
Posted by mingh on 08/13/11
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Bed is the story of two brothers growing up in England. The oldest brother, Malcolm, takes to his bed at the age of 25 and allows himself to grow to morbidly obese proportions from being overfed by their mother. The youngest brother tells the story. It is hard not to focus on the oldest brother's decision. But Bed is really a story of what love means.
 
Late in the novel, Mal tells his brother that love is a continuum with a romantic giving end and an opposite end of destruction. The youngest brother is deeply in love with a woman, Lou, who can only think of Mal. She sees how her father is being destroyed by her mother's lack of love. Lou can't see how the youngest brother can help her.  The younger brother watches his family decline until he is finally able to escape to America with Lou. They leave as friends but soon become much closer.
 
 After many years, he returns to find that his brother has grown so large, 1300+ pounds, that his skin has become enmeshed with the linen of the mattress. Mal's body has become part bed and the bed a part of his body. He finds his mother happy to have someone to take care of and his father engaged in working on a contraption that will allow Mal to leave the house.
 
This book is dark and filled with depression although not in itself depressing. You will keep reading to find out if this growing horror of a situation will resolve itself. This book will make you think long after it is finished. What is love? And what does it mean to sacrifice?
British, Fiction
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 08/11/11
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“War happens to people, one by one.  That is really all I have to say, and it seems to me I have been saying it forever.”   - Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War  
 
In war-torn Europe of 1940, Frankie Bard, an American broadcast reporter, delivers intense person commentary on the London blitz and the forced evacuation of the Jews elsewhere in Europe.  In Franklin, Mass., on Cape Cod, newlywed and newly pregnant Emma Trask anxiously awaits the return of her husband, a volunteer doctor stationed in London.  Iris James, the single, 40-year-old new postmistress of Franklin, feels an immense responsibility in holding the town’s secrets in her bags of mail.  Sarah Blake, the author of The Postmistress expertly weaves together the lives of these three very different women who live in two very different worlds.  Frankie’s world is one of devastation, destruction and violence.  For Emma and Iris, small-town America is home where its citizens go about their ordinary lives with their heads buried in the sand.  As the United States reluctantly edges closer to getting actively involved in this horrible war, the entire country listens to the accounts of Frankie in disbelief, trepidation and horror.  The United States at this time in history was trying hard to convince itself that the war in Europe would not touch them.  But through the eyes of Frankie, Emma and Iris, the reader sees the tragedies of war that indiscriminately touched the lives of everyone.

This is a very powerful book, written about a very difficult subject in a dreadful time in our nation’s history.  But I guarantee that once you pick it and start reading, you won’t be able to put it down!  You will care very deeply about the fates of these three women. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/08/11
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Why is Sweden suddenly emerging as the forerunner in publishing suspense novels?  Is it the lack of a sufficient satellite signal sent to Swedish television sets?  Could it be that during the cold season, darkness dominates by mid afternoon?   
 
This dark first novel by husband and wife team, Lars Kepler, demands the international press that preceded it.  A family is sadistically slaughtered.  One of the victims, a teenage son, survives.  His older sister might be the perpetrator or possibly the next casualty.  A highly successful police investigator demands the case, and enlists the services of a doctor who at one time specialized in the use of  group hypnosis to clinically treat his patients. 
 
The hypnotist, Dr. Erik Maria Bark, promised, ten years in the past, never again to apply his craft, ever since a former patient unjustly accused him of malpractice.   Forced to return his grant money and expelled from his high class hospital role, Bark turns to swallowing synthetics to soothe his humiliation.   This drug addiction leads to a sour marriage.  His only son is born with a blood disorder that adds to the physician's guilt.
 
This book makes the late Stieg Larsson appear to have created his craft using crayons.  This book is suspenseful and sophisticated.   It examines the complexities of relationships in all types of groups, be it family, work or other.  It not only points to their pitfalls, but at the same time proves promise on the horizon.
 
 
 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 08/08/11
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At her full adult height Lavinia Warren Bump was 2 feet, 8 inches tall, yet she was a proportional dwarf, meaning she was a "perfect woman in miniature". Melanie Benjamin was inspired by her appearance in the E. L. Doctorow masterwork, Ragtime, to write Lavinia's fictionalized autobiography.
 
The book traces her life from the Massachusetts farm where she lived a protected life with her family, to her achievement of becoming a school teacher, to her disheartening and sometimes shocking life on a Mississippi riverboat as a performer. Lavinia maintained her dignity and grace through it all. It was her most distinguishing characteristic. She returns home to find that she misses the lime-light, and approaches P. T. Barnum with a business offer. Barnum takes her into his troupe and Lavinia Warren becomes a household name. With a bit of manipulation from Barnum, Lavinia meets and marries the famous General Tom Thumb, who is only a few inches taller than her. The wedding of the tiny people was the event of the year. It even bumped the news of the Civil War off of the front page of the New York Times. They travelled the world together and amassed a fortune. Nonetheless, Lavinia had many hardships to endure.
 
Any reader interested in P. T. Barnum, or Gilded Age America will enjoy this historical treat. It is rich with detail about the period, including clothes, customs and lifestyles of the rich and famous, such as the Astors and Vanderbilts.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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