Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 03/30/10
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This is the 3rd installment in the Michael Bennett mystery series by Patterson. Bennett is the widower father of 10 adopted children.  He also is a NYC homicide detective who has an Irish live-in nanny who is deeply in love with him and the kids. Throw in Bennett's wise-cracking Catholic priest grandfather who talks with a thick Irish brogue and never has met a drink offer that he could refuse and there is the formula for a novel reeking in colorful characters.
 
This story is about a terminally-ill-serial-killer who kidnaps offspring of the Rich and Famous, but doesn't ask for any ransom. He has a game-plan that he rigidly follows and nothing will prevent him from reaching is final goal.
 
Bennett is partnered-up this time with a beautiful FBI profiler who specializes in youth hostage retrieval.  She is a 2-year removed divorcee with a 4-year old daughter.  Ironically, that is the only age child that Bennett isn't fathering. Tension and passions rise for both in and out of the squad car. Stir in to the mix that Bennett is suppose to be helping organize a special surprise birthday party for nanny, Mary Catherine, while trying to prevent another senseless murder and the race is on!
 
The dichotomy of Bennett's loving nature and brutal occupation makes this series special.
Posted by mingh on 03/30/10
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From 1911-1914 Amy Archer ran one of the first private nursing homes in the country. You could pay her weekly for room and board. Or, you could give her $1000 upfront and she would take care of you, even providing for your burial. She always encouraged the $1000 as the better deal. However, if you lived too long, she didn't make money. So she put arsenic in your food to help you along the path to death.
 
The Devil's Rooming House : the true story of America's deadliest female serial killer is a fascinating story of the time period, and the importance of the journalist who started uncovering the story, and the gullibility of the townspeople. Amy Archer always walked through town with a Bible in her hand. People could not believe that a serial killer was in their midst and that this woman was it.
 
Phelps has written a very readable story about Amy Archer, the crime, and how reluctant the authorities were to pursue this without absolute evidence. Twenty years before this story, Lizzie Borden had committed a horrible crime 40 miles away and people feel the authorities botched it up and allowed her to go free. They were determined that the same should not happen with this crime.
 
Phelps is able to uncover the lives of some the victims, most of whom went into the house to avoid being a burden on their families. Arsenic is a very painful way to die. Sixty people died in the house, although only 1/2 can be attributed directly to Amy.
 
The play Arsenic and Old Lace was based on this story. Playwright Joseph Kesselring made the aunts more charming figures than Amy Archer ever was and added a loving nephew who discovers their plot. It was also made into a movie starring Cary Grant.
Posted by Pam I am on 03/30/10
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What would you do if you could relive any 3 weeks from your past knowing what you know now?  This is the chance that Jude Deveraux gives the 3 main characters in this book.  Nearly 20 years ago on their birthday, Ellie, Leslie and Madison meet as 19 year olds at the department of motor vehicles in New York City.  They become quick friends and then lose touch with each other as they all go on with their lives.  Now, in present day, reconnecting as 40 year old women, they all  quickly realize that life didn't turn out as planned.  But then they come across the store of Madame Zoya of Futures, Inc., who makes them an irresistible offer --they can relive any three weeks from the past, armed with the knowledge since gained.  At the end of the three weeks they must choose to go back to their old life or choose the new one.  The reader gets to see the "do-overs" and see what destiny each woman chooses. 
 
I have never read Jude Deveraux before but I know that she is very popular among patrons.  This is definitely an entertaining, "easy" read.   Not a page turner, but fun and enjoyable.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 03/28/10
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"'So now get up!' Felled, dazed, silent, he has fallen; knocked full length on the cobbles of the yard. His head turns sideways; his eyes are turned toward the gate, as if someone might arrive to help him out. One blow, properly placed, could kill him now.” One more kick in the side from his drunken father knocks the wind out of him and young Thomas Cromwell is left there in the cold. The year is 1500 in Putney, England, the day that young Thomas fled his cruel ironmonger father and took to the seas to eventually become an expert in banking and finance under the tutelage of the Frescobaldis, a powerful Florentine merchant banker family; fight for the French; study law; become fluent in French, Latin and Italian and become King Henry VIII’s right-hand man and the 1st Earl of Essex, Master Secretary and Viceregent of Spirituals.
 
Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is a very ambitious and lengthy accounting of the life and times of Thomas Cromwell and how he became the powerful chief architect of the Protestant Reformation. This is definitely not recreational reading or the typical “costume drama” historical fiction. But if you can keep all the characters and locations straight, it is well worth the effort. The author paints an incredibly vivid portrait of this very important man in British history, his family who was very dear to him, as well as other influential men of the time, particularly Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Sir Thomas More (it seems that every other man of that time was named Thomas). Told with compassion and surprising humor, Cromwell’s commitment to the freedom of England and his influence on the events that led to the creation of the Church of England were the endgame of this powerbroker of Tudor England.
Posted by cclapper on 03/23/10
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Venice!  Opera!  Murder!
 
Commissario Guido Brunetti is the thoughtful, charming family man who is charged with unraveling such crimes as may disturb the peaceful repose of Venice, the urban complex called "The Most Serene One."
 
And Maestro Helmut Wellauer, world-renowned opera conductor, has had an unfortunate encounter with cyanide during an intermission.
 
We run through humane encounters in society- high and low; the thousand political tussles that make Venice so Italian; and exceptional individuals who are fun to follow.  Death At La Fenice is the first in a series that continues into its 18th volume, which was released earlier this year.  And we can all be happy about that.  "Brava!"
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/17/10
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For anyone who struggled with trying to make sense of this Dennis Lehane mystery, here is a graphic novel's interpretation that might help shed some light. 
 
Christian de Metter is another one of those award-winning European illustrators who had this book honored in France. 
 
There has been a lot of debate about the ending of Shutter Island.  It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words.  There are a great many pictures in this graphic novel.  Words still escape me.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 03/11/10
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This Book is Overdue is a witty, fast-paced sneak peek into the thrill-a-minute whirlwind that is the public library...seriously. Marilyn Johnson makes librarians seem like a bunch of smart, sexy mavericks who are willing to do whatever it takes to get information to the public.
 
Johnson's anecdotes are interspersed with fun historical tidbits and ideas about where libraries are headed in the future. Anyone who works in a library will find something to relate to in this book, but any reader can enjoy Marilyn Johnson's writing.
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/04/10
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This is Griffin's 5th installment in his Honor Bound Series.  Marine Aviator, Major Cletus Frade, is back and still working for the O.S.S. as a spy in Argentina. 
 
The Nazis have begun Operation Phoenix, an egotistical plot to move high-ranking Nazi officers and party members out of Germany and relocate them to Argentina, under phony names and passports, before the war is lost to the Allies.    They also are stockpiling massive amounts of gold and precious stones, colleted from prominent Jewish families paying ransom for loved ones being held prisoner in concentration camps throughout Europe.  Himmler has found another way to profit from the misfortunes mandated on occupied Jews. 
 
The plan is simple.  Families are contacted by the Nazis and given the option to either pay the blackmail price per relative for their freedom or never see or hear from that loved one again.  The monies collected are then smuggled into neutral Argentina in hopes to be used when the Reich rises again after its upcoming defeat. 
 
Cletus, whose father was in line to become the next President of Argentina before the Nazis assassinated him, inherited his father's enormous wealth and loyal followers; most all former national soldiers.  His cover is that he is running an airline service using planes supplied by his buddy, Howard Hughes.  This was a plan conceived by President Roosevelt as a personal payback to Charles Lindbergh for once saying that Goering had the best air force in the world.
 
In this new chapter, Cletus and his pregnant wife, Dorotea, await the birth of their first child as a high-ranking Nazi SS Officer is personally dispatched to Buenos Aries by Hitler with the orders to destroy all the planes in Cletus' fleet and kill him.  
 
Griffin is one of the leading authors of World War II historical fiction.  He is strongest when blending fictitious and famous characters into a suspenseful story that always leaves his readers wanting more.
Posted by jfreier on 03/01/10
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Rosemary Mahoney provides travel writing at it's finest by injecting her humor and perseverance on her trip down the nile. The author faces crocodiles, dangerous river currents and most of all the stongly held beliefs from the local men about the merits of a foreign woman. This book highlights the cultural differences yet still enlightens the reader about the richness of Egyptian culture and history. I think if you liked Desert Queen you would enjoy this book.
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/25/10
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Ever wonder where the name Hood came from in Robin Hood lore?  This book has a different twist than most.  It doesn't claim reference to Sherwood Forest roots or slang words for criminal.   Written by a proclaimed expert on Robin Hood history, this story digs deep into the relationship between father and son and king and country.
 
Over the last 800 years that this tale has been passed on by word-of-mouth and in written prose,  character names change (not to protect the innocent) and plot-lines differ.  For example, in this version, Marian is a recent widow.  Her husband, the assassinate of Patrick of Locksley, Robin's father.Templar friar, Tuck, along with Will Scarlet, are Crusaders who have fought side-by-side with Robin.
 
Some things never change.  Sir Guy still suffers from a bad self-image and bad press; who's responsible for the death of Robin's father. 
 
John of Sherwood is still not little.
 
Like most graphic novels, the coloring is dark and ominous.  I don't think pastels are ever a first choice on the color pallet of GN artists.
 
In some versions Robin saves the day and dies in the end.  In others, Robin saves the day and lives on to serve his King and weds the fair maiden.  The ending is never the prize or payoff for the reader.  It is the fascinating adventure and the soul-searching struggle of evil vs. good.  Goliath vs. David. Only this Davey's in green tights.
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