Staff Choices

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.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 09/26/09
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The Magicians is Harry Potter mixed with The Chronicles of Narnia and rated "M" for Mature.  A surly teenager, Quentin Coldwater is invited to a school of magic.  With a fair amount of sex, drug use, and violence, this is no Hogwarts.  The Magicians is more mature in other ways, as well.  The characters question the relationship of man, magic, and God.  And Quentin has a complex relationship with his girlfriend.  Additionally, it has one of the most interesting and sinister villians I've read in quite some time.  The Magicians is a page-turner that will appeal to fantasy readers as well as readers of realistic fiction.
Posted by Pam I am on 09/15/09
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I have long known that Jennifer Weiner is a very popular author of "chick lit", but I have  never read any of her books.  Certain Girls is actually a sequel to the bestselling novel Good in Bed.   The reader does not have to read the prequel to understand and appreciate this fun and enjoyable read.   In Certain Girls, Cannie Shapiro, the main character, is happily married  and is a very proud mother of her daughter, Joy.  Cannie has settled into a routine of being a mom and wife, and writing science fiction novels for teenagers.  But, life gets interesting and a  little crazy as Joy hits adolescense and begins to explore her mother's past.  At the same time, Cannie and her husband our trying to decide if they should have a child through surrogacy.   The narrative switches from Cannie's point of view to Joy's and this is an interesting way for the readers to hear and experience both sides of the story.   This is not a deep reflective book, but one that you will enjoy as a humorous and fun look at mother-daughter dynamics.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/14/09
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If you are into the current vampire-fiction-frenzy and demand well-written books instead of ones that appear to have been published without editing, this is the book to read.  There are over 30 authors contributing short stories that are each unique to the genre.  Renown authors such as Eric Van Lustbader, Ann Rice, Stephen King, and even King's son, Joe Hill, contribute.  There is a humorous tale starring Bela Lugosi, who, while in a morphine-induced state, meets Vlad the Impaler, who is in an equally opium-induced state that is quite creative.  There is a sort of Great Gatsby sequel with some character tweaks.  There even is an Old West tale.  I enjoy searching for new ideas on old themes.   This collection spins an assortment of short stories that each distances itself from the next.  No two tales are similar.  It also has a comprehensive  guide at the end of the book listing additional author recommendations.
Posted by Pam I am on 09/06/09
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The Help is Kathryn Stockett's debut novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s.  The author gives us three remarkable woman who are changing the times:  Skeeter, Aibileen and Minnie.  Skeeter has just graduated from college and her mother would like her to marry, but she wants to be a journalist.  It is Skeeter's idea to work with the black "help" to document life of the hired help in the tumultuous civil rights time.  Skeeter works with Aibileen, a black maid who is  a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child.  We also hear personal stories and challenges  from Minnie, Aibileen’s best friend, a short, fat, and sassy maid.  These three women come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.  These brave woman are challenging the stereotypes and segregation in this town.
Posted by jfreier on 09/01/09
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I read this new book only because I was, and to some extent still am, a Rolling Stones fan. If you liked the movie Almost Famous you might enjoy this book. The author was a huge Stones fan growing up in Brooklyn in the disco 80's, he started a Fanzine called Beggars Banquet and at seventeen managed to track down Ron Wood and give him a copy. The Stones were living in New York in the 8o's and the this 17 year old kid managed to become a marginal part of the inner circle. The book has a lot of behind the scene tales of the band's relationships and was quite heady stuff for a kid. I enjoyed the book but it came at a time when the Stone's were going corporate and the bad boy partying except for Wood and Richards were over.
Posted by cclapper on 08/31/09
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Do you know the story of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick (Cheney)? I didn't... and it's quite a story. Nancy Horan has written this novel recreating what she thinks might have been the growing relationship between these two historical characters: the famous architect, and the wife of one of his clients. In real life, their romance created a tremendous scandal, and Ms Horan has delineated, in fiction, how two complex and powerful personalities might have connected and- created controversy.
 
This novel has been incredibly popular - and is a favorite choice for book groups.  We are going to discuss it in our Novel Experience group!
Posted by mingh on 08/17/09
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Two women meet briefly at the start of World War I and meet again during the bombing of Coventry, England on the night of November 14, 1940. We learn how the women have spent their lives between the wars. But what really compels in this book is the depiction of that terrible night.
 
Humphreys used historical records and personal accounts of that night to help in her depictions of everything from what it felt like in the shelters, to the bombing of Coventry Cathedral. While the story is clearly fiction, some of the images will remain with you long after you have closed the book.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/13/09
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This is one of the best mysteries that I have ever read.  It was so suspenseful that I let the last 30 pages drag out for 3 days; only reading 10 pages a day because I didn't want it to end.  The plot is simple.  U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, ferry to Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of an inmate of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane.   The mystery is how could a female patient held in a cell that is no bigger than a closet, manage to escape out of a locked cell, past several locked and manned checkpoints, then flee a rat-filled island that is surrounded by pounding waves and 50 degree water.   Something strange is taking place on the island.  The government funded hospital should be able to easily house more than 500 patients, yet there are less than a hundred incarcerated.  There are almost three times as many staff and guards on the island than inmates.  The head doctor could be a former Nazi.  Rumors of illegal surgeries are hinted.  The time is the early 1950's when hallucinogens were first being introduced into psychiatric treatment.   This novel was optioned to Hollywood and Martin Scorsese directed the film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio.  It's supposed to open in early October.  The film adaptation will be tricky to pull off since this book is not bound to basic laws of physics.  Visualization of the intricate character studies might be compromised.  I recommend reading this book first if you are planning to view the film.

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