Staff Choices

Posted by jfreier on 12/21/09
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This is the story of five people in Tokyo who's lives interact between midnight and dawn. There is a musician, two sisters a hotel manager and a prostitute, one of the sisters has been sleeping for days, all is not what it seems. I found this book magical and disturbing and it stuck with me for days, the writing is spare yet very decriptive and great character development. If you like David Lynch, Franz Kafka give this a look.
Posted by cclapper on 12/18/09
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Another culture, on the fringes of our own.
 
In a small village on Alaska's coast, peopled mostly by the native Inupiat (who we commonly call Eskimos) an Alaskan State Trooper is  faced with unusual deaths.  Suicide is not unknown in this struggling backwater.  But can these be suicides?  As he investigates, Trooper Nathan Active is also deciding how his own Inupiat heritage fits into his life.
 
Altogether, a sharp image of a community I knew nothing about.  A mystery that will grab you, with strong characters and a real feel for a region and a way of life that are striking.
 
This kept me up most of the night; I didn't want to stop.  Fortunately, it's the first in a series, and I'll be following up on the other Nathan Active stories.
 
If you enjoy a taste of other cultures and a feel for other lives, you might really enjoy White Sky, Black Ice.  (Some adult content but little graphic violence.)
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/17/09
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This book is hilariously irreverent. The premise is:  much has been written about Jesus Christ starting at his birth and when he was thirty-three; however, there is a big gap in his autobiography.  This book fills in those lost years as told by, Levi (Biff), the supposed best friend of The Son of God.  I have not read anything to date by Christopher Moore.  He has written a lot of books and I'm told that he is well-known for his humor.  I found this book spiritual in a weird and wacky way.
Posted by mingh on 12/16/09
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Snow is the story of a late twenties/early thirties poet/writer who returns from political exile for his Mother's funeral. While back home in Turkey, he is asked to go to a far eastern Turkish city to write about the recent spate of suicides among young girls. Using his initials as his identity, KA, tells himself that he is only going for the story of the girls, and not because he also knows that the love of his life also lives in that city.
 
The story takes place over three days. In that time KA is reunited with his love, talks to friends of the girls who suggest different reasons for the suicides, meets up with the many different political and religious groups fighting for control of the city and struggles with how living in the West has changed him and how it has not.
 
Snow continues to fall until it locks the city in the mountains. There is no way in and no way out.  And so the revolution begins with a theatre troop taking over the town. Lead by a man angry that he was not chosen to play Attaturk in the movies, he will show the people of this town what true tragedy is by performing a Turkish adaptation of Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy.
 
In it all KA looks at the snow with beauty and wonder and feels the poetic muse rise  between all of the meetings demanded of him by the differing political and religious groups. Each group would like for KA to tell the West what is happening in their town. Some want the West to see them as sophisticated and very much similar to Europeans, others want nothing to do with the West.
 
KA is pushed back and forth between groups when all he wants is to be with his love. An interesting book to read from the Western perspective, to see the struggles that other countries have with our way of life and how threatening it may be to them.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 12/15/09
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"Your house’s emblem should not be the white rose but the old sign of eternity . . . the snake which eats itself. The sons of York will destroy each other, one brother destroying another, uncles devouring nephews, fathers beheading sons. They are a house which has to have blood, and they will shed their own if they have no other enemy." So it was said of the House of York, whose family crest bore the white rose, waging war against their cousins, the House of Lancaster of the red rose, for the crown of England. So it was said of the War of the Roses.
 
And at the center of the storm was a commoner, whose mother was born of royalty, Elizabeth Woodville. She was a woman of extraordinary beauty, rumored to be a sorceress, who supposedly cast a spell over young King Edward IV to become his wife and Queen of England. While her husband constantly took up arms to defend his crown to usurper cousins from the North, Elizabeth rose to the demands of her lofty position, promoting the fortunes and advancement of her ambitious relatives. But the prediction of the snake which eats itself became true as rivalry between the Yorks and the Lancasters never was laid to rest. Violence, betrayal and murder dominated Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward IV and devoted mother of their children.
 
Elizabeth and Edward IV had seven children, five daughters and two sons. The oldest son, Edward V, was never crowned King of England after his father’s sudden death. He and his brother Richard were imprisoned in the Tower of London by their uncle, the youngest York brother, Richard. In one broad stoke of blind ambition, he declared the children of Elizabeth and Edward IV illegitimate and declared himself King Richard III. The fate of the two young princes has confounded British historians for centuries. But Philippa Gregory, master historian and storyteller, puts her own unique spin on this royal mystery, thus setting up the storyline for the next book in this new Plantagenet’s series, "The Cousins’ War."
Posted by Pam I am on 12/14/09
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The irony and appeal of this book is that the author, Jill Bolte Taylor  is a Harvard-trained brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke at the age of 37  and survived.  As a neuroanatomist by profession, Taylor realizes she is having a stroke when it occurs and is able to experience her brain injury and recovery from a patient's and Dr.'s perspective.   She provides the reader with first person narrative of her experience in the ICU, her experience with rehab doctor and nurses, and her long  journey of relearning to walk, to speak, to read, and to communicate, and to live.
 
Taylor explains the anatomical elements of a brain injury in practical layman's terms but also shares the mystical and powerful lessons she  discovered along the way.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 12/13/09
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 A brilliant little girl has decided that life is just too much to bear for those who truly understand how empty it is, so she is going to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. Until that day, she is making note of "profound thoughts" and trying to find something so inspiring that it justifies staying alive. Alternating with her story is the story of Rene, the middle aged concierge of the girls building. Rene goes to great lengths to epitomize the "French concierge". She scuffs around in dirty old slippers and leaves her TV blaring in the living room with vapid day-time shows, while she sneaks into the back room to listen to opera or read Kant.
 
The Elegance of the Hedgehog has a literary voice that is singular indeed. It is a joy to read writing of this caliber. At the risk of sounding trite, this book is poignant, clever and witty. It is quirky, but in a natural way that seems fresh and inspired.
Posted by mingh on 12/08/09
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Cake Wrecks would make a nice light funny book to give someone for this holiday season. Jen Yates has been collecting bad cake art for the past two years. Everything from misspellings on birthday cakes to misunderstandings between decorater and customer.
 
Chock full of the pictures of the cakes and comments to help with the fun, this book is a fast read. But you would be hard-pressed not to find something that will make you laugh. You'd be surprised how many cake decoraters can't spell burthday, brithday, I mean, birthday. Great fun.
 
For anyone ordering a cake in the future, be afraid, be very afraid.
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/02/09
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"Aye, shiver me timbers, matey!"  The late Michael Crichton's estate found this finished manuscript in his files after his death.  When is the last time a good pirate book was published?
 
This story has all the essentials:  A flawed hero:  Captain Charles Hunter;  his sleek sloop, the Cassandra;  his crew of 60 lost souls;  not one, but three fair maidens; the corrupt governor of Port Royal, Jamaica;    a more corrupt assistant;  the Spanish villain, Cazalla, the captain of the warship El Trinidad;  stolen treasure beyond imagination; a sea monster that defies sensibility; a helmsman who is a true artist;  a tongueless Moor assassin; a French pirate who is not what he appears; blazing cannons; swashbuckling swords; menacing muskets; barrels of rum called kill-devil; the development of what is known today as grenades; remote island paradises inhabited by cannibals; sea-battling-sinking-ships; wooden-legged spies; a treasure map of sorts; bawdy wenches; and plenty of action and sex.  The only thing missing from this book is a parrot.
 
Parrot be damned!  This story hooked me from the title page. It has been a while since I read Crichton.  I forgot how visual his books can be.  Hollywood will undoubtedly purchase the rights and cast a spirited crew of actors.  Until then, reading this book will have to fulfill all those dormant piratical needs.
Posted by Pam I am on 12/02/09
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The Handmaid's Tale is set  in the near future in the Repuplic of Giliead, a country that was formed when the United States was overthrown by  racist, chauvinistic, theocratic military coup.  The story is told from point of view of a slave named Offred (of Fred, referring to the man she serves) who is a "handmaid" – a woman kept for reproductive purposes by the ruling class.   Margaret Atwood explores many social issues including:   gender roles, reproduction and sexuality, caste and social classes, and religious fundamentalism.  The author gives the reader a  thought provoking view into a future society.
 
This book would make an excellent choice for a book discussion group as it could lead to spirited discussion on many issues and provokes "What If" thinking.

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