Staff Choices

Posted by mingh on 10/14/09
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Eight chapters all focusing on a different aspect of Ms. Hempel, 7th and 8th grade English teacher. The first chapter focuses on her recent years as a teacher. The next chapter focuses on early years growing up. Third chapter is about her bridal shower of the previous year. Each chapter opens up the reader's understanding of Ms. Hempel.
 
Ms. Hempel loves her students because she can see in them all of her potential at that same age. She wonders if they too will settle for something less than their potential. She watches them eagerly to try and find out where it went wrong for her.
 
Ms. Hempel Chronicles is the character study of a young woman who has reached a place in her life that is by all means successful but does not fulfill her hopes and dreams. How did she get here? This novel is for a reader who is willing to jump around in the narrative of someone's life to see the layers slowly unfold.
 
This book would be good for book discussion groups and people in their twenties who could really identify with Ms. Hempel's predicament.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/12/09
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I usually don't read a lot of SF, but I find this author's books irresistible.  This book takes place back when knighthood ruled and damsels always seemed distressed.  Eddie LaCrosse is a medieval private-investigator who packs a mean sword.  He is hired by a king to prove that his queen didn't eat their newborn baby.  In his travels to find the truth, Eddie runs up against a plethora of kooky characters including a diabolical dwarf and a Horse Goddess.  This book is not only a well-written mystery, it is also quite clever.  A lot of detail is spent describing fictional sites, sounds and cities.  There are love stories and plenty of action.  Eddie is quite the hero.  Like most of his kind, there's no telling where or when he will draw a line in the sand.  By the end of the book Eddie even has a new perspective on horses.  Go figure!  This book would make an interesting addition to someone's book discussion group.   It is only 230 pages long.  It's refreshing reading a mystery that takes places hundreds of years ago and still is hip and happening.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/09/09
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"...Peace, love, dove, beads, bells, incense, light shells, crash pads and Hari Krishna all you groovy freaks.  You having a good time?  Far out and solid..." 
 
What a hip-happenin' book this is.  Vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginskiis outed in 1915 England by Sir Frances Colby and staked with a gold crucifix.  75 years later, the Baron gets a new lease on the dead-life.  He is brought back in America to a world that has vampires who read and believe all the Hollywood press clips.  They don't even realize that the sun has no effect on them.  The Baron has to deal with this mass ignorance while he tries to plot his revenge against the one man that caused his forced retirement for the last 65 years.  There is a cast of righteous characters that brought back memories of the bell-bottoms and tie-dye days of past. 
 
This is Bledsoe's first novel.  I am already reading his 2nd novel, a SF story about a quirky private investigator from c.1250, who packs a fast sword and likes faster blonds.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/09/09
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In the twenty-first century the very idea of digging up the freshly dead corpse of someone you cared about and admired, to cut off the head and steal the skull seems a tad morbid. But apparently, during the height of the phrenology craze, it was a perfectly acceptable hobby of middle-class men of Europe. Cranioklepty traces the post-mortem adventures of the skulls of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven as well as a few other "great men". This book is quite entertaining, providing a well researched history of phrenology and craniometry and their influence on society's view of skulls and brains.    Cranioklepty is at times an exciting detective story, a fascinating history of cultural change and a poetically written dissection of the human fascination with self, soul, mortality and the symbolism of the skull.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/08/09
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There's the never-ending battle for truth, justice and search for a good vampire/werewolf story. 
 
This one is written from the non-hereditary, female werewolf point of view. This book backs the theory that there are three types of werewolves:  The Hereditaries, who are born from righteous bloodlines and live in packs; the Mutts, who are outcasts of the packs; and the Bitten, humans who were attacked by a werewolf and converted.  This category can be the most vicious. 
 
As the story goes, the only werewolves worth keeping at birth are the males.  They are then raised by their brothers in the pack.  It is in the pack that they learn how to survive in society.  They can be lawyers, bankers, or any profession they choose.  They are taught how to hunt and change shape at will.  They can be destroyed just like any other human.  Silver-bullet-shooters need not apply.  The storyline is simple.  The bitten, Elena, has left her pack to try to make in on her own in Toronto.  The pack calls her back to NY when it is put in crisis.  Some mutts have join forces and are out to destroy her loved ones. 
 
There is an interesting love-hate relationship between Elena and Clay, the pack werewolf that converted her.  Will Elena join forces with her brethren, defeat the mutt-attack and choose to remain with her own kind or after her mission is completed, go back to Toronto and a human boyfriend that she can never marry or have his children?
Posted by jfreier on 10/07/09
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The story of the Becker and Vonn families set in Orange County starting in the mid 50's and culminating in 1968. The four Becker son's Nick the cop, Andy the reporter, David the Minister and Clay the star who is killed in Vietnam in 1966, the Vonn's a poor family from Oklahoma with two violent and surly boy's and two ptretty girl's ,the two families lives entertwine throughout this novel in violent and loving ways, including murder. The plot is multi layered and revolves around the murder of young Janelle Vonn,through the eyes of Andy Becker we meet Nixon, Leary, and Charlie Manson as he lives through 1968 in Southern California while trying to solve Janelle's mrder. I enjoyed the writing and intricate plot and the author's description of 60's CaLifornia was spot on.
Posted by mingh on 10/05/09
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On July 14, 1518 in Strasbourg, Frau Troffea started dancing until fatigue overcame her for the night. After sleeping briefly, she continued dancing until her feet were bloody. By the end of July, over one hundred people had been affected by the dancing plague and many were dying from it.
 
In The Dancing Plague: the strange true story of an extraordinary illness, John Waller uses contemporary witnesses and records from Strasbourg that document this unbelievable event. What scientific causes were there, if any? What internal struggles or environmental causes could there be to make people dance to their death? How did it come to be called St. Vitus Dance?
 
John Waller has created a very readable book about the times in which the dancing plague occurred. How the beliefs of the people may have helped or hindered those afflicted. And could this event be the basis for Hans Christian Anderson's tale The Red Shoes?
 
A great read for nonfiction book groups and those interested in learning more about living in the late medieval period.
Posted by cclapper on 09/30/09
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Remarkable. A mystery taunt with psychological suspense, unusual events, interesting locales, and very distinct characters.  All this wrapped in skillful, eloquent writing.  Don't let anyone know this might be literature.
 
When a body is found at an archeological dig in a small community in Ireland,  Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox of the Dublin Murder Squad  are assigned to the investigation.  But Detective Ryan has some history of his own.
 
This is Ms French's first novel.  Her second,  The Likeness, is already out.  We all have great things to look forward to.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/28/09
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This is a sexy, adult paranormal-romance that is first in the Riley Jensen series.  Riley is a dhampir. . .half werewolf /half vampire.  She works as a secretary for the Directorate; an agency that polices non-humans.  The enforcers for this ruling body are called Guardians.   She has a brother, Rhoan, who is a Guardian.  Riley's boss wants her to become like her brother, but she insists that she is not born for the violent aspects of that career choice.  Like all werewolves, Riley is subject to drastic mood swings during the week of the full moon.
 
She must mate and mate often.   She currently has two millionaire mates that meet needs.  Her brother is in a gay relationship with a renowned werewolf makeup artist.  The plot is simplistic:  Someone is killing vampires and the Guardians sent to investigate.  Cloning and plans to create super non-human beings appears to be the end game goal.  I have never read any romance books before, but this one hooked me.  Arthur has eight other books in this series published and her website says that she plans to end at the number nine.  I have already put holds on the next two in the series.  It looks like Arthur has a couple of more series books out there that I might investigate.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 09/28/09
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Haunting, elegant, mysterious, intricate, passionate, a bit gothic and demonic, at times slapstick, a work of art. This international best-seller by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon is all of these and more. Need I say more?
 
This mystery book is about a mystery book and its mysterious author. The setting is 1940s and 50s Barcelona, a city slowly healing from the war. Daniel Sempere, the son of a rare books dealer, narrates how he came into possession of The Shadow of the Wind, a bewitching book that took over his young life. Not yet 11 years old, Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge book repository for books forgotten by the world but waiting for someone to care about them again. Daniel’s father tells him to pick out one book in the massive labyrinth of shelves and rooms, a book that will have a special meaning for him.
 
Daniel so loves The Shadow of the Wind that he sets out to find the other books written by the author, Julian Carax. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, madness and doomed love. At every turn, he is haunted by a mysterious man who appears to be the devil personified, and threatened by an evil, corrupt police captain who made his bones as a hit man during the war. Over the course of several years, in pursuit of his mystery author, Daniel falls in love a couple times, and befriends a hilarious homeless man who lends great comic relief to the dark story. After many twists, turns and dead ends to the mystery, Daniel must find out the truth about Julian Carax, or he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

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