Staff Choices

Posted by Pam I am on 10/30/10
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I was drawn to reading a Lisa Scottoline novel because of her reputation for writing bestsellers involving clever cases and dedicated characters who are street smart and likable. And Daddy’s Girldid not disappoint me. In this book, law professor, Nat Gecko, who is a year away from tenure is the unlikely heroine who is thrown into a murder mystery. At the beginning, she agrees to accompany her colleague, Angus Holt to the legal clinic at the Chester County Prison and a riot breaks out and a prisoner and a guard are killed. Nat barely escapes being assaulted by one of the inmates before a correctional officer whispers his dying words to Nat: “Tell my wife it’s under the floor.”
Nat tries to deliver this message to Ron’s wife, but her life is then threatened by those who don’t want her meddling in the situation any more than she already has. Eventually, Nat herself is accused of murder and must go on the run and try to solve the mystery herself. Nat finds herself in a series of well-plotted events that clearly point to her guilt and she must try to prove her innocence.
This is a fast-paced book that keeps the reader interested and hooks you from the start. If you want a heroine that you can root for and cheer on then this is a good choice for you. I will definitely read another Lisa Scottoline book.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/18/10
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Virgil Flowers does not look like a Homicide Investigator.  He does not dress like one.  He surely does not act like one; however, he is one of the most successful case-closers in the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCI). 
In this latest installment, four recent murders in a small rural community have led to Virgil being called in to investigate.  At the center of the investigation is a church group that was founded in Germany over a hundred years ago and has migrated to the Midwest. The children are all home schooled; the young girls marry older men and there are whispers of social taboos being breeched.
Virgil teams up with the attractive sheriff in hopes of solving the murders.  Unfortunately, all the church members keep to themselves and all Virgil can turn up is speculation, not specifics.
This is the 4th book in this series.  The nice part is that the reader does not have to read them in order.  This Virgil Flowers series is a nice diversion from all the Prey novels.  Virgil Flowers is a refreshing diversion from the typical mystery-book-investigator.  He works against the typecast and uses his uniqueness in a way that disarms people and makes them vulnerable to his inquiries.  He is a charmer and chocked- full of blarney.
Posted by mingh on 10/13/10
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Gunn's Golden Rules : life's little lessons for making it work is a wonderful book for fans of Project Runway. Although there is a good deal about Tim Gunn's personal life and his family, there is also a great deal of dish about the fashion industry. He knows everyone and has some strong opinions about people in the industry and about the industry itself.
But Gunn also comments on basic manners and etiquette. How you treat service staff such as at restaurants, emailing thank you notes, dressing appropriately, everything comes to his attention and he has an opinion about it
The real appeal will be to fans of Project Runway. You learn more about how the whole process works, how Tim doesn't like that the producers make it seem like he only shows up one time per project to help the designers, and about working with specific designers from past seasons. Its interesting to know that many in the industry were against the show because they felt it took the glamour away. Gunn's argument was that it was necessary to show what the industry is really like.
This is a light, fun read for fans of Tim Gunn and/or Project Runway
Posted by jfreier on 10/12/10
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The latest entry in the popular Cork O' Connor series has Cork investigating the discovery of fives bodies found in the abandoned Vermillion drift mine. The closed mine is being considered to be used as a site for nuclear waste site causing an uproar with the local "Ojibwe" as well as the local miners. The real mystery begins with the discovery of the five bodies, four are native americans who vanished in the 70's and one is the daughter of a wealthy mine owner who vanished one week ago. Cork also is amazed to learn they were all killed with the same handgun, which turns out to be his late Father's gun which Cork owns but has disappeared. It sounds a tad confusing but it ties up neatly in another well written mystery by Mr. Krueger.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/08/10
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Being born and raised in Chicago, a true Chicago sports fanatic leans early in life to treasure the rare occasions that thier sports teams win any championships.  Case in point:  The Chicago Cubs.  Enough said.
This new book chronicles the Bear season of 1985 and the Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots.  It is in the first person narrative Da Coach, Mike Ditka.  It also dedicates, at the beginning of about every chapter, a page or two with several selected stars of the squad sharing some of their personal recollections.
The book is co-written by the award winning columnist from the Sun-Times, Rick Telander. The layout of the book is set to enhance a quick-read; displaying thin columns and a lot of pictures.  There are also a great many small, shaded areas that have former players perceptions of past games that season.
It is the 25th anniversary of the last time a NFL world championship was won by Chicago.  A die-hard fanatic's worse nightmare is that it will be another 25 years or longer till that goal is again achieved.
". . .Includes a bonus audio Compact disc featuring an exclusive interview with Mike Ditka that provides even more memories from the truly golden era of Chicago football. . ."
Posted by mingh on 10/07/10
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Ruth Rendell is best known for her Chief Inspector Wexford series. However, this gem is less of a mystery and more of a suspenseful character study. Portobello refers to the famous North London road that fills with shoppers and markets on the weekend. Off of Portobello Road are rich residences and poor residences.
We meet Lance, a petty thief,  who has just been released from prison and is estranged from his longtime love who has left him. He is forced to live with his religious Uncle when the rest of his family won't take him in. Lance thinks that if he could just make some money, his girlfriend will take him back.
Eugene is the owner of an art gallery and is engaged to Ella. However, Eugene has some interesting addiction problems that he feels he must hide from Ella, a doctor. While attending patients at the hospital, Ella meets Joel. Joel who is estranged from his family lives in darkness. He keeps his sunglasses on day and night and keeps lights off in his flat. Ella would really like to help Joel. This attention is new to Joel and he attaches himself to her in some frightening ways.
All of the characters will influence each other either directly or indirectly. Finding out what is really happening in their lives and what will happen to them when others discover their secrets is the journey of this book.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/30/10
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In the old West, the Comanche ruled.  Settlers, soldiers and sheriffs fought them for territorial rights for over 4o years.    They were the most adept horsemen and fierce fighters.  They often took as captives, young white women and children; marrying them and raising them as part of their tribe.
Cynthia Ann Parker was a classic example of a white woman who spent most of her life with the Comanche until the day that she was "rescued" against her will, by some Texas Rangers.  Her half-breed son, Quanah Parker, went on to be the last of the great tribal chiefs.  A life defined by never having lost a battle.
Gwynne has a firm handle on his research and this work speaks volumns supporting the long history of governmental abuse of the American Indian and their struggle to conform to a society whose morals are alien to their own.
Not as profound as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, but very insightful.
Posted by mingh on 09/29/10
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Jack has lived with his Ma his entire five year life in an 11x11 room. They only have one visitor who comes to see his Mother at night while Jack is supposed to be asleep. The room has a locked keypad that Jack and his Mother cannot open. This is the only life Jack has ever known.
Jack's Mother asks Jack to be brave so that he can sneak out and let the police know about their room. Jack is very frightened but decides that for his Mother's sake he will be "scave," both scared and brave. Jack has never known anything outside of Room, Room is the whole world to him. The only other world occurs in TV.
Room is told from the viewpoint of five year old Jack as he struggles to understand his Mother and the confines of Room. Donoghue has captured the voice of Jack perfectly. He is a beautiful little boy who is "scave," when facing his world and his place within it.
Room has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2010.
Posted by jfreier on 09/25/10
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If you liked Kitchen Confidential or No Reservations , or if you are a a foodie this book is a book for you.  Bourdain gives an inside look at the food world in general, including celeberity chefs, bloggers, critics and himself. I enjoyed his take on his own celeberity and the phenomona of the "Celeberity Chef" which causes him some soul searching. There is hilarious chapter ripping food critic"Alan Richman", and a surreal encounter with the Food Channels' Sandra Lee, who he thinks is evil incarnate. All in all a funny and entertaining book for his fans' and food junkies.
Posted by mingh on 09/24/10
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Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the throne of England. It is 1932 and she is broke--not a penny to her name. When Queen Mary calls her to the palace and asks her to be the royal representative in the marriage of the Princess of Romania and the Prince of Bulgaria, she has no power to refuse. Of course, the royal family will pay for the travel arrangements for she and the maid. The maid? Lady Georgiana has no money for a maid. What can she do?
This is the latest mystery in the delightful romp of Her Royal Spyness series. Royal Blood is the latest book, but you do not have to read them in order to follow along the crazy adventures of Lady Georgiana who is a sharp young woman always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Follow the antics of her best friend Belinda who is part of the IT crowd of bright young things in England; her Mother who is on husband four or five, and her enigmatic love, Darcy who always shows up when most needed.
This is a fun light read that really tries to capture the times, although no one would mistake it for historical fiction. Bowen tries to keep the  real people true to their characters including the royal family and that of course adds to the fun.
For more with the royal family checkout Royal Flush. The King, Queen and their children, including David, who is very interested in an American divorcee named Wallis make an appearance.
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