Staff Choices

Posted by mingh on 09/15/10
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Life is hard enough for 10 year old Pia Kolvenbach when her Grandmother goes up in flames. Was it a mysterious case of spontaneous combustion? Or was it that her Grandmother used too much hairspray and got too close to the Advent candles? Pia knows the truth but her classmates treat her like a pariah. Shortly after the strange death of Pia's Grandmother, girls start disappearing from the town.
 
On top of all that is happening in the town Pia's parents are fighting and her Mother wants to return to England. Pia has been to England and her cousins hate her and she doesn't want to leave her friends. However, her Mother is now convinced that she should leave their German town because all of the missing girls are around Pia's age. If Pia and her friend Stefan can figure out this mystery maybe she can stay.
 
This isn't a children's mystery. Its the story of adults with secrets as viewed from the perspective of a child. Something is very wrong in Pia's house and in her town. She hears pieces of information some of which she doesn't understand. The adults seem to know so much including who has taken the girls. And yet, others in the town prevent people from persecuting the man they think did it. If they know who did it why don't the adults arrest the man?
 
Helen Grant has captured perfectly the voice of a ten year old who is learning more and more about life. She likes spending time with her Grandmother's friend who tells her fairy stories and stories of local legends. Sometimes these stories make more sense than what is happening in real life. This is a great story of a year in the life of a 10 year old girl trying to make sense of the world around her.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 09/13/10
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The latest in the "mobile librarian" mystery series, The Bad Book Affairis a fun and delightful cozy mystery for readers who enjoy Irish culture. Isreal Armstrong is a Jewish, vegetarian from London who is working as a bookmobile librarian in the most remote northern end of Northern Ireland. He is wallowing in self-pity over being dumped by his girlfriend, but he has to pull himself together and help find a missing teenager before he ends up being implicated for her disappearance in the newspaper. Worse yet, the missing girl is the daughter of a powerful local politician who has it in for Isreal. With the reluctant help of his bookmobile partner, a very curmudgeonly old Irishman who makes merciless fun of Isreal every chance he gets, the mobile library sleuth manages to untangle the plot. The plot of The Bad Book Affairis not exactly thrilling, but the characters and dialog make it well worth reading. I plan on reading the others in the series to find out why Isreal Armstrong is stuck in this provincial town where he feels so out of place.
Posted by Pam I am on 09/10/10
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The best selling book The Help has been on wait lists for patrons for months and is worth the wait.  I just finished with a book discussion for our Novel Experience book group and we had a lively and interesting discussion on the many social issues this book tackles. 
 
In her debut novel, Stockett adresses the turbulent times of the early 1960s in Mississippi through the eyes of  the domestic help.  The story is told through three narrators, Skeeter, Abileen and Minny.  Skeeter, is a a young brave white woman who is fighting her own stereotypes and figuring out what line to cross.  She works in secret with Abileen and Minny to write about  the plight of the black maids.  Together they write stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families' homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution.   As they put it, they are entrusted to care for white people's children but they are not trusted with white people's silver.
 
This book address so many issues such as Civil Rights, color barriers, women's issues, friendships, families and more.  It is a book you will never forget and is well worth the waiting list.
Posted by cclapper on 09/09/10
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Over the course of one day, a young woman sits in a cafe trying to read Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.  Anna thinks and remembers, and as she does, her life and the lives of everyone around her quietly unfold.
 
Set in Finland, in the months after 9/11, this is a thoughtful and surprising novel.  When it was first published in 2005, it was shortlisted for the Finlandia Prize,  the most prestigious literary award in Finland.  This is Elina Hirvonen's first novel.
 
I think you will become involved with these people and how they survive.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 09/09/10
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It was December, 1941. It had been six months since the Germans had kept Leningrad under siege, trapping the Russians, cutting off all land connections so as to starve the residents of the city. Seventeen year old Lev Beniov had been arrested for looting. Russian soldier Kolya Vlasov had been thrown into Lev’s jail cell into the dreaded “The Crosses” for desertion. It was a certainty that the two men would be executed in the morning, without trial, since there was no food to give them to keep them alive while in prison. But in the morning, something unexpected happened. The guards came for Lev and Kolya, escorting them to the colonel’s office. He made them a very unusual offer, one that seemed impossible, but one they couldn’t refuse if their lives were to be spared. He wanted the two men to steal a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. They had five days to accomplish this task, at which time he would set them free and give them back their ration cards.
 
Lev and Kolya embark on an odyssey to find the impossible dozen eggs, a quest that propels them from the lawless streets of Leningrad to the devastated countryside behind German lines. As they encounter murderous city dwellers, guerilla partisans, and finally the German army itself, an unlikely bond forms between them. With every encounter, it seems as though they have met the end of their road, only to find help from people equally as desperate as they were. The author, David Benioff, gives the story a personal touch in making it appear as though Lev Benioff was his grandfather, and that the story was told to him while visiting his retired grandparents in Florida. Excellent character development set against the backdrop of the infamous siege of Leningrad make for a great read.
Posted by mingh on 09/04/10
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Alexia Tarabotti is a rare creature in Victorian London. She was born with no soul. This should not be confused with the vampires and werewolves who once were people with souls. If Alexia touches a vampire, he will return to his original state until she lets go. In years past, the Soulless were used to hunt vampires and werewolves. Once a Soulless person touched the creature, they lost all of their powers and were much easier to kill.
 
But this is Victorian London and the Vampires, Werewolves, and Humans live happily amongst each other. Until someone starts killing them. Busybody Alexia feels she must get involved when there are hints that she might be involved. But when she is attacked by an unknown creature immune to her powers, things get very challenging.
 
The Head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, a Werewolf,  is very familiar with Alexia and would like to become even more familiar with her. He must do everything to protect her, but a full moon is coming on and he will have to withdraw from society.
 
This is a fun book that has created a society of rules and regulations guiding relationships between the creatures and all wrapped up in a Victorian show of manners. What if Vampires and Werewolves came to the ball? (Well, you just know that the Vampires hold the best dances, although their food and refreshment can be a little lacking.) Add to this some steampunk and you have a fun ride.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 08/30/10
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When I saw the cover of this book amongst the countless all-caps titles and author names with flashy images that adorn most of the new fiction collection, I snapped it up like a gold nugget in a muddy riverbed. The lack of words on a book cover was half of the attraction for me. In particular because it was in the fiction section, so it couldn't be an art book or a poetry collection. I was not disappointed. I wouldn't recommend this book for everyone because it is so unique that readers with a strongly held notion of "novel" will be frustrated by it. From start to finish every sentence in The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? is a question. Yet, Powell manages to establish a substantial character for his narrator, or should I say, interrogator? Not that this feels like an interrogation in any negative sense. The questions spark nostalgia, curiosity, introspection and at times, fear and disgust. By the end, I felt a kinship with the narrator and I appreciated Powell's mastery in crafting this most unusual book. I can't think of when I last felt so strongly that I wish I had thought of that.
Posted by jfreier on 08/27/10
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I was browsing in new fiction and the title and cover lead me to pick up this mystery. This is the fourth in a series featuring a Royal Thai detective in Bangkok named Sonchai. The story starts around a grisly murder of an American movie director in the sex trade part of Bangkok. The story is a witches' brew of graphic violence, Thai sex, Tantric sex and Buddhist sensibilities. The characters include a beautiful Tantric Yogin, a deranged Tibetan Lama and a drug dealing general and a corrupt police chief. I found the book very refreshing and a mystery unlike any I've read, I will now start his series and read them in order.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 08/26/10
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When last we saw Lisbeth Salander, she had been shot in the head and hip by her wicked father, and buried alive by her mutant monster brother. As she lies in her hospital room recovering from her critical condition, Mikhail Blomkvist, her rescuer in the previous book (The Girl Who Played With Fire) must prove her innocence. To do so, he must expose a decades-old conspiracy within the Swedish security police that has, among other atrocities, perpetrated a lifetime of abuse aimed at Salander in order to protect the identity of her father, a Soviet defector and longtime secret asset to Sapo. A hornets nest indeed. This exciting finale to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy does not disappoint his fans. Its just too bad it has to end here.
Posted by mingh on 08/26/10
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The Girls of Murder City : fame, lust, and the beautiful killers who inspired Chicago is the full title of a new book by Douglas Perry. Even if you have no interest in the musical Chicago, haven't seen it, didn't like it, you will still find much to interest you in this book.
 
Its fascinating to read that from 1840-1920 no women were convicted of murder in all of that time. It doesn't mean that women weren't killing, no, it has more to do with the fact that the juries were all male and still put women on a pedestal. AND forget it if you were good-looking. All the newspapers had tabloid elements to them and your picture appeared on the front page: pictures of you from before the murder, pictures of you in jail perhaps looking helplessly up to the sky. The newspapers were just as responsible for depicting these women as helpless much to the chagrin of the prosecutors.
 
Finally, in 1924, a jury convicted a poor dishevelled Italian immigrant, Sabella Nitti, who spoke little English. Even after this, good-looking women could still get off for the most heinous murders. When a female lawyer decides to take the appeal case of Sabella Nitti, she dresses her up and gives her English lessons and she wins the appeal.  This book is about all of those women and the female journalists who wrote about them.
 
It was the fact that it was so difficult to get a conviction of a good-looking woman that made the Illinois Courts change to adding women to juries. Really a fascinating read and great book club read.
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