Staff Choices

Posted by on 08/30/11
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In this debut novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, we are introduced to Victoria Jones a complex character who we learn is a foster care survivor. We follow Victoria, wavering between past and present, starting at age 9 when she entered the system to present age 18. As she now emancipates from the foster care system, Victoria must learn to live on her own. She finds some peace by tending to a small garden in the corner of a park where she has been sleeping. She meets and is hired by a neighborhood florist named Renata who discovers her talents. Victoria finds that with her unique gift for flowers she uses the flowers and the symbolism to help her communicate.  You can sense Victoria’s pain and feelings of unworthiness when you learn of all that she has had to endure in foster care. Victoria is just trying to overcome her neglect and abuse and that’s why she pushes people away, always wondering why she was abandoned by her mother at birth.
When Victoria meets Elizabeth she is the first person that understands what Victoria is doing and she breaks through to her by teaching her the language of flowers. Through this language they are able to build a relationship. Elizabeth has her own challenges which Victoria interprets as rejection. To protect herself Victoria acts out against Elizabeth in a violent way that ends up haunting her for years to come.
It’s a story about confronting the pain of a life spent in foster care and accepting limitations. She must decide whether it’s worth risking a second chance at happiness when she meets a mysterious vendor at the flower market and has her questioning what’s been missing in her life.
Includes a glossary at the end of the book.
Posted by mingh on 08/29/11
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Jake Marlowe is the last werewolf in the world and he is being hunted by the group known as the Hunt. Grainer, the leader of the Hunt, demands the right to kill Marlowe because Marlowe killed his Grandfather. Grainer refuses to kill Marlowe until he has turned into a werewolf because Grainer does not kill humans. In two days, Marlowe will have turned and Grainer who has been tailing him will have his chance.
So why have one of the Vampire families kidnapped him? Vampires and werewolves don't associate. Marlowe owes nothing to the Vampires and as far as he knows the Vampires owe nothing to him. So why are they so concerned with keeping him alive?
What the author does best is to get into the head of Jake Marlowe with his loneliness and inability to make a human connection. In his human life, Marlowe runs many philanthropic organizations meant to benefit humans. But then every full moon he must kill and eat human flesh. Desperate to hang on to his humanity, Marlowe toys with giving himself up to Grainer.
This is a psychological werewolf story, part thriller, part horror. The werewolf killings are graphic and try as he might, Marlowe cannot deny the beast in himself. The Last Werewolf reinterprets the folklore about werewolves in twists and turns that will surprise and interest readers of paranormal fiction.
Posted by mingh on 08/25/11
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This book was published earlier in the UK under the title The Popes : A History. That is precisely what it is. Not all 265 popes are mentioned nor can be in this survey of the papacy. But all of the major players are here.
What Absolute Monarchs does best is to really show what the job of Pope was before the 20th century. The Pope had to be mediator between squabbling aristocratic families, a negotiator of treaties between countries, the civic manager of Rome, and the defender of the faith. It was the rare man who could do well at all of the functions. There are very holy men who do wonderful things for the poor of Rome but are hopelessly inadequate to negotiate treaties or mediate. Those responsibilities take a diplomat or statesmen to maneuver around all of the politics of the day.
The Pope was in charge of Rome and keeping its commerce rolling as well as collecting tithes and  indulgences, therefore the position of Pope could be very lucrative. So it becomes clearer how we wind up with the Borgias or the de Medicis who were less interested in the defender of the faith elements of the position.
Because the position of Pope was so tied up with the politics of the day, parts of the book can seem very dense. Arguing with the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and having to quell dissension in France, or disputes in Spain, reads more like international history or political history. But the Pope was very involved in all aspects of politics and international negotiations. It wasn't until Italy was united in the 19th century that the position of Pope becomes less political and more spiritual leader.
The author continues his survey of Popes to the present day. He has opinions on some of the conspiracies of the papacy, Pope Joan, death/murder of John Paul I and the rules of the antipopes. But the real benefit is in showing why some men were drawn to the position and others refused. The modern papacy is very different from what went before.
Posted by jfreier on 08/22/11
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Alex Miller is full partner at one of New York's most prestigious law firms, he has a beautiful wife and a young daughter and life is a dream until the death of his father. Alex meets the mysterious Michael Ohlig , his fathers' best friend but unknown to Alex except as an almost legendary figure in his fathers' life. Michael asks Alex to represent him when he is about to be indicted for fraud against his Boutique brokerage firm. Alex and his co-worker Abby Sloane lead the case and are drawn into an dangerous relationship and uncover many skeletons from Michael's past and also Alex's. This is a well written first novel by Adam Mitzner, good character development, surprises and he knows the law. This would appeal to fans of "Scott Turow" and early "John Grisham".
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/22/11
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Writing this Staff Choice recommendation is justified.   Even though this collection of short stories has been on our shelves since 2009, it is justified.   There is not one weak story out of the nine that appear.  That is justification in itself.
Justified is the FX television series starring Timothy Olyphant.   The  show still emits a buzz even though it is in its second season.  It is based on the short story Fire in the Hole that is included in this book.  The TV adaptation is dead-on in the pilot episode.  That alone speaks volumes about the kind of writer Leonard is.  Two of his strengths are being able to write descriptively and capture everyday dialog.
What other popular writer can create a cute encounter between two retirees that encompasses both a fading past and sweet future in only five pages? Such is Hanging Out at the Buena Vista.
In Karen Makes Out, U.S. Marshall, Karen Sisco, of film fame and former TV series Out of Sight, shows another unsuccessful slice of her sex life.
Sparks is the aptly titled story about an insurance company investigator looking into the suspicious house fire of a young widow of a recently departed millionaire.
The title story has a former burlesque dancer turned bored rich wife getting marriage counseling from her Columbian murdering maid.
Available in both written and audio book formats in our collection.  
This checkout would be most justified.
Posted by mingh on 08/21/11
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In the story of the War of Heaven, certain angels went against God and were plunged into the abyss. Their leader, Lucifer, was sent to the lowest depths of Hell from which he cannot escape. In The Paradise Prophecy, the war between the fallen angels and Michael the Archangel continues on Earth.  According to a prophecy, if the fallen angels can find the key and what it opens before the end of the 4th eclipse in a year, they will have freed Lucifer and will rule the Earth.
Agent Callahan is not sure who she works for in Washington DC, a group called the Section. But they are very keen on her finding out who killed a Christian pop star, a Turkish Antiquities owner, and others who have died with the sign of the devil beneath their charred bodies. She is not a believer but soon begins to see things that just cannot be, humans morphing into horrific creatures, beings with superhuman powers, and creatures disappearing into dust when killed.
Callahan is joined on her travels by a drunken Milton and Paradise Lost scholar who is capable of the Vision, When he shows her how these people died she comes to believe in demons and angels. But how are humans supposed to fight this?
The story travels from Los Angeles, to Sao Paulo, to London and Istanbul. Written by a screenwriter, the action builds to a thundering crescendo. This novel for fans of The DaVinci Code and other thrillers starts out with each chapter following a different character. As the reader sticks with the book, the characters start to come together to bring this war to its conclusion.
(Note:  Fans of the Left Behind series might find this more R-rated.)
Posted by cclapper on 08/18/11
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New York...City & State! -- Today, Working Toward the Future: Kristin Kimball was creating a dynamic life in the Big City... one of the biggest, in fact: New York City.  Then she went to interview a farmer working on a dream he's had for quite some time... and her life changed.  The farmer was building a business, a farm based upon 'CSA'.  CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture", and it fits into the 'locavore' concept.  Basically, local folks contract with a local farmer for a period, and then pick up food for the duration of their subscription.  Most CSA farms are vegetable operations, but this young farmer hoped to set up a CSA that would supply all the food their subscribers might need- vegies, meat, milk, eggs, maple syrup...  An ambitious undertaking.
And Kristin Kimball was entranced not just by the ideas, but by the young farmer himself.  And vice versa.
This is a book about relationships: Kristin and the farmer; their relationship with their animals and the land; the relationship we all have with our food and it's points of origin; and the relationships we all share with our planet's environment.  Even the ongoing relationship every one of us has with our 'work'.
I enjoyed this book tremendously.  Enough so that I won't hint how it turns out.  You can find out by coming to one of the two presentations the Library is hosting... with a discussion!
The talks will be at the Library on Thursday, August 18, 2011 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm,  and on Saturday, August 27, from 10 am till Noon.  Both get-togethers will be in the Lindsey Room.  You can register online or by phone- just give us a call.
NOTE!  You do *NOT* need to have read the book- just come on down and join the discussion!  I'm going to... and I hope to see you all there!
Posted by Pam I am on 08/18/11
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Silver Girl is the perfect book to read over a long summer weekend.  This book touches on friendship, betrayal, romance and redemption -- all against the backdrop of beautiful Nantucket.  Meredith Delinn is living a rich, privaledged life with her husband Freddy.  Then her world comes crashing down when Freddy is convicted of running a ponzi scheme and cheating his investors out of billions.  (ripped from the headlines of the Bernie Madoff scandal?)  Alone, and in hiding, Meredith reaches out to her long lost childhood friend, Connie.  Connie is also struggling alone as she recently lost her husband to cancer.  Connie and Meredith spend the summer at Connie's house in Nantucket attempting to rebuild their lives.  Slowly, the two learn how to embrace life again after loss.  Hildebrand also ties in a little romance with an old flame and a new flame.  There is a touch of mystery as Meredith has to help the feds recover some of Freddy's hidden money.  If you want an easy, entertaining book, this is a good choice.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 08/17/11
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Art Breen and his mother were abandoned by Art's father when he was just an infant. Mary Breen raised Art on her own until he was about 12 years old and she remarried to Ted McGann. Ted is a tough, manly drinker who is intimidating to delicate, young Art. Mary and Ted have two more children and lead a fairly happy life, even though Ted drinks heavily and is prone to violent outbursts. Art never quite fits in to the McGann family and is taken to a Seminary boarding school for high school. In the priesthood, Art comes into his own. He finds a way to relate to people that he never could access before. He still had a hard time dealing with men, but he found the women and children to be delightful and he delighted them. After a long, successful career at several different parishes, Art is in his fifties when he meets and befriends a young woman with a drug addiction. Kath Conlon has some serious problems and a neglected little boy. Art fears for the boys safety and for Kath's and offers free schooling for the child at the parish school. Kath is happy for the help, and Art arranges for a parishioner to get her a decent, cheap apartment. It comes as a great shock to Art and his family when Kath accuses him of molesting her son. As the story plays out, the accusation tests the faith of each member of Art's family, both in their religion, and each other.
Faith is written from multiple perspectives and spans several decades in the telling. Jennifer Haigh does an excellent job of capturing the feeling of the Irish Catholic experience in Boston. The honest analysis of the crisis of the pedophile priest controversy and how it has impacted the faith and futures of individuals and families is well-worth writing about. Definitely a thought-provoking story.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 08/16/11
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In 1944, at the age of 23, Marshall Stone was a cocky young U.S. Army pilot with nine successful missions to brag about when his B-17 bomber was shot down in a Belgian field, near the French border.  With German troops closing in to capture him and his fellow downed crewmates, he fled into the nearby woods. Miraculously, he was found right away by nearby villagers who hid him from the Germans.  The people who helped him were part of a network of French citizens, from all walks of life, who formed the Resistance, sheltering and moving downed Allied airmen through covert routes to return them to their airbases in England.  To these brave people Marshall owed his life.
Forty years later, newly widowed and retired, Marshall Stone returned to that crash site in Belgium.  The overwhelming memories from that experience drove him to stay in France and try to find the people who helped him, especially a vivacious young girl in a blue beret.  In his odyssey, he finds many of those people, all of whom had their own terrifying experiences during the war.  But none more horrific than the story of the young French girl who helped him and so many other airmen to escape the German soldiers.  His journey becomes a life-changing experience, helping him to find closure and a second chance at life.
Based on the true wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, author Bobbie Ann Mason writes a very authentic account of the French Resistance during WWII. The details and vivid narratives bring history alive for the reader.
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