Staff Choices

Posted by jkadus on 03/08/11
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Before retiring to bed one evening, an author looks out of her living room window and sees a line of people in her driveway. First in line is a young woman cradling a baby, behind her a fastidious man in his 40s, then a thin graying older woman, etc. These people are, she realizes, characters in her upcoming novels. She is awoken in the middle of the night by footsteps on the stairs leading to her bedroom. The door opens and the fastidious man from the driveway enters her room. He apologizes for intruding but feels compelled to ask her to write his story before the others. Eventually she agrees. His name will be Alvar Eide, he is 42, single, works for an art gallery and leads an orderly yet uneventful life. All of which suits Alvar perfectly until the author decides to introduce a young homeless female drug addict into his story. It all begins innocently enough when a young woman walks into the gallery on a brutal Norwegian winter day and Alvar offers her a cup of coffee to warm up. Soon she appears on his doorstep and becomes an integral yet potentially damaging aspect to his life. As the direction of his story shifts in an increasingly uncomfortable direction, Alvar “visits” the author and implores to alter the course of events.
Posted by cclapper on 03/02/11
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Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne is a stand-up human being.  Ex-Army, well-liked and respected by everyone in his department and in the small community of Millers Kill, New York.  Clare Fergusson recently arrived in Millers Kill as a newly ordained Episcopal priest.  She has been given responsibility for the parish of St. Alban's, and she has a surprising background- she was a crack military helicopter pilot until she found her new calling.
Both feel a commitment to honor and duty.  But something is happening.  Since they first encountered each other (see Spencer-Fleming's In the Bleak Midwinter) a profound respect and strong affection has grown between them.  The problem: Russ is married.  Both Russ and Clare are struggling to control what they feel. 
Russ talks with his wife about what is happening- and she throws him out.
Could things get worse? 
What if Russ's wife is murdered - brutally?  What if Russ is the principle suspect?  What if suspicion falls across Clare as well?
This mystery series by Julia Spencer-Fleming is winning big awards.  Murder in a small town.  With good people and a community you will believe in. 
Give this a try.  Let me know what you think.
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/28/11
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Milo worked in law enforcement for seven years before he was forced to retire.  With the skills sets that he had mastered there was only one logical choice for his next career move.  He partnered-up and became a thief. 
As most thieves will tell, getting pinched goes with the territory.  Milo is caught stealing an envelope from a victim who's killed during the commission of the crime.  Milo is able to hide the evidence before he is caught and put in the slammer.  Milo has gotten evolved in something that is way out of his league; because how many jailed suspects get a federally ordered, 24-hr. armed guard outside their holding cell?  Milo needs to get sprung.  He needs a good attorney.  But Milo's a dog.
Enter dog-lover and independently wealthy lawyer, Andy Carpenter.  As a favor to a friend of his on the police force, Andy reluctantly agrees to defend Milo and his jailed partner, Billy Zimmerman; another ex-lawman.  Someone is out to silence the two suspects. Andy slowly gets suckered-in by a highly intelligent German Shepherd and his war-hero master. 
What follows in this 8th book in the Andy Carpenter series.  It is a quick-paced, clever mystery.  Just the chapters about a lawyer arguing his defendant's bail hearing in open court to a judge is worth the read.    A terrorist bombing that happened in Iraq during the war is the focal point of this mystery.  Billy Zimmerman lost a leg because of it and soon might be framed for murder being sold as revenge.
All of Carpenter's sidekicks are back and the wisecracks are plentiful.  Rosenfelt, in a real-life, is a protector of Golden Retrievers.  His love of dogs is a recurring theme in many of his novels.  Animal and mystery book lovers will be thrilled reading his latest edition.
Posted by jkadus on 02/25/11
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Five years ago, Allison Glenn committed an unspeakable crime.  A crime which destroyed her relationships with her family and friends, and quite possibly her future.  Five years later, she is released from prison to a halfway house in her hometown of Linden Falls.  As Allison struggles to rebuild her life, she is met with opposition and hostility from the town residents. Even her sister Brynn refuses all contact with her.  When Allison applies for a job at the local bookstore, owner Claire Kelby is sympathetic and hires her.  Claire knows only of Allison’s recent imprisonment but not of the crime of which she was accused.  Soon, details about past events surface which could permanently alter the lives of those around her. The choices one makes can ultimately affect oneself and others for a lifetime. Fans of Jodi Picoult might enjoy this.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 02/23/11
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Major Ernest Pettigrew is the embodiment of the British phrase "stiff upper lip."  A widower living in the small village of Edgecomb St. Mary in the bucolic British countryside, the Major is a staunch traditionalist, trying valiantly to instill his honorable values of duty and honor in his son, Roger.  Without much success, however.  But his idyllic world is about to be turned upside down.  His brother has just died, and his son and sister-in-law are pressuring him to sell a pair of very valuable Churchill shotguns given to his father by the Maharajah for his courageous military service.  Lord Dagenham is broke and is about to sell off his ancestral estate of Edgecomb St. Mary to greedy American developers.  And the Major has fallen in love with an Indian widow who is a local shopkeeper.  That should make a few ripples in the tranquil waters of Edgecomb St. Mary society!
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is not just a delightful, charming and poignant novel (which it is).  The author deftly deals with serious social issues with empathy and humor.  Helen Simonson talks about her heart-warming first novel.
Posted by cclapper on 02/18/11
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1952 - South Africa:  Hitler has been defeated... but the ideas that fired his Reich still burn in other regions of the world.  Particularly in South Africa, where the Afrikaner Broederbond, the 'brotherhood of the blood", exert an unspoken but devastatingly powerful influence everywhere.  Apartheid has just become law and the cultural abyss between blacks, whites and "colored" is titanic.  ("Colored" was their term for people of mixed racial heritage.) 
And then- a man is murdered.  A powerful white Afrikaner police official.  Political and social  tensions coil like mambas waiting for the first misstep. 
And Detective Emmanuel Cooper walks into the middle of it.
Wow.  This is Malla Nunn's first book.  I knew nothing of South Africa in this period; this is an eye-opener.  Check out the cover blurbs.  Give it a try.  I think this author has some good stuff coming. 
Let me know what you think.
Posted by jkadus on 02/18/11
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At 14, Finny “Delphine” Short feels like a misfit around her family.  One day as she wanders the countryside behind her home, she encounters an odd boy named Earl. From that chance meeting, an unlikely friendship and an even more unlikely romance blossom between the two.  When her parents discover the true nature of her relationship with Earl, Finny is sent away to boarding school.  Upon arrival, she is greeted by the formidable hall matron Poplan, a diminutive and practical woman who takes Finny under her care.  Finny’s roommate, Judith, is wealthy, worldly though not too wise.  Despite their disparate personalities, they immediately form a bond which will last the rest of their lives. Throughout the course of Finny’s life, these three characters serve as catalysts to encourage her as well as providing a sense of stability.  This is a well written story of love, loss and living.


Posted by Pam I am on 02/17/11
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Maybe This Time is a modern day twist on a familiar ghost story -- Turn of the Screw.  Andie is persuaded by her ex-husband, North Archer, to serve as a nanny for his niece and nephew for one month as they were recently  orphaned when their aunt died. They have been left alone with just a housekeeper in an enormous old mansion.  Andie arrives to find the old house inhabited by haunted spirits and an extremely creepy and inept housekeeper.
Also arriving at the mansion are a journalist reporting on the hauntings, Andie's ex-brother-in law, a ghost investigator, a woman leading a seance, and North Acher, her ex-husband.  That is when Andie begins to question her feelings for North and thinks maybe they could work this time!  This book was a fun, lively (pun intended) read.  Especially around Valentines Day!
Chick Lit
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/14/11
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Imagine looking past cottonwood trees out at the Gulf of Mexico through flimsy gauze.  The air is salty, the waves are commanding, and the entire atmosphere is sweaty and thick with insects. 
This is the feeling you get reading Koryta's new novel that takes place on the coast of Florida in the mid 1930's.  Depression has taken its toll on the post-WW I veterans who are forced to seek labor in work camps throughout the country.  Arlen Wagner is one of those ex-Marines who is struggling to survive. 
Arlen's struggles are compounded because he has a special gift or curse.  He can look a person in the eyes and see their death.  While  train traveling with his naive co-worker, young Paul Brickhill, arlen sees death in all of his fellow passengers and quickly convinces Paul to exit the train with him. 
Their sudden exit leaves them alive to survive the horrific train crash down the rail, but stranded in a remote region with little resources.  They hitchhike with a shady stranger who takes them to the Cypress House and introduces them to the lovely and mysterious Rebecca Cady, owner of the hotel/bar. 
A hurricane is brewing and the two travelers must take shelter with Rebecca.  Their transporter, Walt Sorenson, is suddenly killed and both innocent men are arrested by the corrupt local Sheriff.  They are tortured in their holding cells by order of an evil, powerful politician, Wade Solomon.  
Solomon has far-reaching control over all the citizens in his territory and is the county's sole contender for Crime-Boss-of-the-Year.  The Cypress House is the center of Solomon's smuggling operation and he has Rebecca's world held ransom.    The new travelers are not welcomed and viewed an interruption to his smooth running operation.  It doesn't help matters that Paul falls madly in love with Rebecca and Arlen sees death in his ward's eyes every time Solomon is nearby. 
What follows is a slow-paced, Southern story that meticulously builds towards a powerful ending. 
Posted by mingh on 02/14/11
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On her ninth birthday, Rose discovers that she has a terrible affliction. She can taste the feelings of whomever made the meal. She first learns of this when tasting her lemon birthday cake as made by her mother. The frustration and disillusionment of her mother overwhelms young Rose, who doesn't know what to do about it. She is too young to articulate what she feels in the cake and her mother misunderstands her.
Rose's odd brother is five years older than Rose and avoids her and most of the world. Her father spends too much time at work and not enough time with the family. Rose begins to crave snacks made in factories because they lack any human interference. She doesn't know how to talk to anyone in her family and feels very alone. Her brother's friend George is the only nice person she meets. He finds her talent fascinating and always has time for her.
As Rose grows up, changes occur in the family, her mother becomes happy and Rose can taste why in her meals. Her brother becomes more and more removed from the world and soon Rose finds out that he too has a special talent. As readers we watch Rose grow from a child with a terrible torment to a young woman with a gift.
A dark, despairing but ever hopeful story.
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