Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 04/14/11
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Even though this book is cataloged as Fiction, it is definitely Sci-Fi/Fantasy.  Matheson is probably best known for his novels:  I am Legend, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House, and The Night Stalker.  He also penned the short story Nightmare at 20,000 Feet which is one of the most famous episodes from the "Twilight Zone."
This story begins as a recollection by the 80+ year old author, Alex White (aka Alex Black).   During World War I, Alex meets his soon-to-be best friend in a trench in France.  Alex is fighting for America and Harold is there for his beloved Britain.    While dodging mortars and hand-grenades, the two form a special bond.  As the war progresses, so does the likelihood that their deaths are near.  
Harold's dying words to Alex are the rekindling of past stories about Harold's "gorgeous" village in England named Gatford.  Alex is bequeathed a wad of gold the size of a fist and vows to find the place after his medical discharge.
Gatford proves to be almost impossible to find.  When Alex finally discovers it, he agrees it is gorgeous and decides to settle down there.  Only 18 years old and very impressionable, Alex gets into a relationship with the local witch, Magda, who is old enough to be his mother.   Alex discover that the nearby forest is called Middle Earth; the home to a nation of fairies.  
Alex slowly begins to break the rules passed on to him by town-folk and eventually falls in love with the diminutive fairy, Ruthana.  What follows is a sweet story of love and loss in a mixed-marriage (human and fairy) peppered with a vow of vengeance by the vindictive half-brother of Ruthana.
The narrative of this book is borderline grating.  Alex is the type of person that cannot take a stand on anything and questions everything he says and believes.  Not a good quality in an author leastwise a narrator.  The frequency of the narrator's "second thoughts" is so reoccurring that it almost becomes annoying.   And yet this story has enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. 
Posted by mingh on 04/13/11
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When Diana Bishop finds an enchanted document in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University she doesn't think much of it. Diana is a reluctant witch from a long line of witches that extends to the Salem witch trials. But the find of this long lost book arouses the attention of every vampire, witch and daemon in the world. Witches, vampires and daemons don't mix well with each other, and even less with humans. But this find has the potential to drag them out into the open.
A very powerful vampire, with suspect intentions, aligns himself with Diana, he says, for her protection.  She is not sure what to think at the beginning of their relationship, but begins to fall in love with him.  But why are her Aunts so cagey about her past, her parents, and this vampire? 
Will the vampire remain her true protector? What is the meaning of this magic book? And why is it Diana who is destined to be the one to unleash all this magic in the world? These are the major questions in this adventure romance novel. From London, to France. to New England, follow Diana and the vampire Matthew as they try to outwit the others.
There is plenty of history in the book -- the vampire is very old and has known many people, and Diana is a Professor of History. Although not a time travel book, nor historical fiction, this book will remind many readers of Gabaldon's Outlander series.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/04/11
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What's better than stumbling upon a new mystery series author?
This is the 5th book in Randisi's Rat Pack series.   Baby boomers and boomettes recall that the Rat Pack was comprised of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.  The '60's were their heyday and their kingdom was Las Vegas.
Eddie G. is a pit boss in a mob-run Nevada casino.  He also is a fixer.  Eddie G. ("...just call me Eddie...") knows a lot of people.  This knowledge endears him to The Chairman of the Board, aka:  Sinatra.  In past Randisi novels we learn that Eddie was minutes late to Marilyn Monroe's date with destiny,  helped Dino when he was being blackmailed, assisted Sammy when the little man shot someone in Eddie's living room and  is currently attempting to protect Ava Gardner.  
All of the books have titles that play upon popular song titles:  "Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime";  "Luck be a Lady, Don't Die"; "Hey There, You With the Gun in Your Hand"; "You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You."
The narrative is right out of film noir.  The sentences are clipped.  The characters' shoulders all have chips.  Sexism is the standard where women are "broads" and nothing gets discussed unless it is over a few fingers of booze and several smokes. 
Eddie G. is a lover, not much of a fighter, so he always teams up with a lovable enforcer named Jerry Epstein.  Jerry loves to cook and eat and has no qualms about breaking bones.  It's his business.
Mystery lovers should make it their business to check out this series.  It will deliver.  That's a fact, Jack.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 03/31/11
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Natalia is a young doctor living in an unnamed Balkan City that has been devastated and broken by years of war.  While en route to an orphanage located in enemy territory, she receives word that her beloved grandfather has died far from home.  Since he was a well-respected doctor and a very rational man, the circumstances surrounding his death are confusing and mysterious.  Beset by memories of tales her grandfather told her as a child, she becomes convinced that his last journey was in search of the "deathless man," a drifter who claimed to be immortal.
Filled with myths, fables, superstitions and a touch of magical realism, The Tiger's Wife alternates between grandfather's past and Natalia's present.  As Natalia is lured into her grandfather's past, she must piece together the puzzle while reconciling the present state that her country is in.  Stories of the tiger who escaped from the zoo when the city was bombed by the German's, the woman from his village who became known as the tiger's wife and the mysterious deathless man, are brought to life by the author's rich prose and honest portrayal of life in her embattled country of origin.  Tea Obreht is an author to watch, immensely talented and wise way beyond her years.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 03/29/11
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 "No one questioned how she came by the information or what she had to do to get it; they simply paid."
Vanessa "Michael" Munroe has a special talent for finding information where others cannot.  Armed with fluency in multiple languages and a reputation for extracting highly accurate sensitive information, she has turned this into a very lucrative career, dealing this information to corporations, heads of state and private clients who are more than willing to pay her price.  Her past life as the daughter of missionaries in violent Central Africa is the demon that torments her, causing her to turn violent when backed into a corner, or when someone she loves is harmed.  When she was 14 she escaped from a horrific life, only to walk into another one at the hands of a sadistic mercenary.  But while "in training" for a drugs and guns dealer in Cameroon, she became an expert at martial arts, and not too shabby at handling a knife.  These skills, of course, also aid her in her current occupation.
Munroe accepts a job from a Texas oil baron, who hires her to find his daughter who disappeared four years ago in Central Africa.  The job takes her back to her old haunts in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, where she is kidnapped twice and barely gets away with her life more than once.  In addition to finding the oil-dude's daughter, she must lay to rest her demons from this savage world.
One reviewer referred to the character of Vanessa Munro as a "warped composite" of Lara Croft, The nameless Bride from Kill Bill, and all three Charlie's Angels.  Action-packed and fast-moving, the author has left plenty of unanswered questions and room for a sequel.  The Informationist is Taylor Stevens debut novel, and a must-read for thriller lovers.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 03/27/11
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On a cold November night in 1910, Will Anderson is summoned to a meeting with John Cooper, a man who was once his close friend, but is now his romantic rival. Cooper has told Will that he needs to meet him at Detroit Electric, the automotive company owned by Will's father. Cooper says that Elizabeth Hume is in great danger. Elizabeth was Will's fiancee and now is engaged to Cooper. When Will goes to the automotive works late at night to meet with John Cooper, he finds the man brutally crushed beneath the steel stamping machinery. When Will hears footsteps and voices he runs. Fleeing the scene of the murder for which he has such a strong motive puts Will in a pretty tough spot. Things go from bad to worse as more bodies show up and more evidence piles up against Will.
Detroit Electric Scheme is a fun, suspenseful mystery, but it is also a well-researched historical novel that sets the reader firmly in early 20th Century Detroit. Two of the main characters are struggling with addiction problems. This is also a story of redemption and overcoming oneself in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Posted by Pam I am on 03/27/11
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At the beginning of the book, Molly Marx  dies unexpectedly in a mysterious biking accident at the age of 35.      The chapters switch back and forth between Molly in the "duration" as heaven is called looking down on the present day and the months that led up to her death.  Although it sounds like it could be depressing, this is actually a funny and touching story with a light mystery.  She looks down on her 4 year old daughter, her philandering husband, her lover, her twin sister, her mother and father, her difficult mother in law, and her best friend as they all try to solve the mystery of her death.  Even though she is dead, she has not lost her humor, and her zest!  This is a clever book with an interesting perspective and I thought was a fun read!
Chick Lit
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/23/11
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One night walking the streets of London, Richard Mayhew chances upon a lady in need of a good Samaritan.  Once Mayhew touches her he is drawn below the city to a world that not many know exits. 
This is the premise of Neverwhere.  Unbeknownst to most,  London has an underbelly;  a city-beneath-the-city.  People enter this world by falling thru the cracks.  In Neverwhere angels and demons exist.  Rats talk.  Evil is personified in the likeness of two men centuries old.  Royalty is in jeopardy. 
Door, the rescued young woman, is the daughter of the King of Neverwhere.  Her family has been slaughtered and she is on the run from two eternal assassins:  Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.  She gets aid from a mercurial Marquis.  She holds auditions and hires the underworld's best body guard:  Hunter.  Door's quest is to find the Angel Islington, who was working on a secret project with her father that holds the key to why she lost her family and is now a target.  The Angel also might know a way for Mayhew to be able to return to his former life, above ground.
This book is like The Twilight Zone meets Mad Max in the Thunderdome.   It is very visual.  Richard Mayhew is an unimposing ordinary guy, when placed in a difficult situation, rises to levels within himself, that he doesn't know exists.  After reading, try watching the DVD version in our collection that was a BBC miniseries by the same title. 
Posted by jfreier on 03/21/11
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I really enjoyed this debut mystery by Bryan Gruley. The book takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a place filled with beauty, strange and colorful characters and an underlying sense of foreboding.
Gus Carpenter is the editor of the local paper and is surprised to hear the snowmobile of his hockey coach has shown up on the shore of Starvation Lake. Coach had died ten years ago on a different lake. Gus gets involved with a reopened investigation that leads to murder and the uncovering of long held secret. A great character driven mystery with  a great sense of place and many twists and turns.
Posted by mingh on 03/21/11
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House of Prayer No. 2 : a writer's journey home is the story of writer Mark Richard's growing up as a "special" child because of his disabled legs and mental blocks. Some teachers found him slow, others found him above average. But when everything looks bad along the way he always finds a teacher or mentor who can help him in his journey to become a writer. Some of the mentors are men of faith of different religions. At one point he considers joining an Episcopal seminary. He attends Baptist Services and helps to rehab a Church. But there is a wild ride to go through before he is at that point.
Mark Richards grows up in the South with parents who seemed to have little time for him except to bring him to doctors who all tried to fix his legs. He spent weeks in the Crippled Children's Hospital without his parents at seven years old. Some of the nurses become his close caretakers and he met many friends. But it was still devastatingly lonely.
As a young adult he doesn't know what to do with his life, hitchhiking across the country, sleeping on friend's sofa's and squatting in abandoned homes on the coast. Taking some writing courses he is able to sell stories to such magazines as Esquire and The New Yorker. Not enough to live off of but enough to get noticed. Soon he is off to Hollywood and writing for TV.
This memoir is told in the second person.  It as is if the writer was saying to you, if YOU lived my life YOU would be doing this. YOU would find yourself in a hospital surrounded by other children with disabilities. YOU would wonder how they felt. This can be jarring but it also creates a very immediate experience for the reader.
An interesting memoir about a man who wanted to write, but had to go through a lot of living to get to that point.
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