Staff Choices

Posted by Pam I am on 12/06/13
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As the holiday season is upon us and the hustle and bustle of life ramps up, I decided I wanted something light and heartwarming to read.  I love a good literary challenge, but what I really needed was a book that would let me escape the chaos.  Lorna Landvik's Welcome to the Great Mysterious is the perfect book to curl up with and relax.
 
Geneva Jordan is a middle-aged self-centered Broadway star who has just been dumped by her boyfriend and is fast approaching menopause.  Just then Geneva's twin sister Anne asks Geneva to come stay and babysit her teenage son while Anne and her husband take a much-needed vacation.  Geneva grudgingly agrees and heads to Minnesota to babysit her 13 year old nephew, Rich, who has Down Syndrome.  Rich and Geneva forge a relationship and learn about life and love together.  Together they find an old scrapbook from Anne and Geneva's childhood, titled The Great MysteriousThe Great Mysterious scrapbook contains questions and answers from Anne and Geneva's teen years and explores the great mysteries of life such as finding true love, facing your fears, and the bond of family.
 
Posted by jkadus on 12/03/13
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'Tis the season to be baking, fa-la-la-la!  Is there anything sweeter than the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the house? Well, aside from eating them of course! We all have our traditional family recipes as well as some "tried and true" favorites, but why not try something new this holiday season? Here's a sampling of some of our holiday cookie books to get you started. Who knows, you might start a brand new holiday "tradition" this season. So break out those cookie sheets and let's get baking.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/29/13
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Enjoying dark comedy or gallows humor (as it was originally referred to) is an acquired taste. It is said that when the condemned man climbed to the top of the gallows, where the noose was placed around his neck, he was asked if he had any last words--he quickly responded:  "...Look at all this rotted wood. I don't think it's safe up here..."
 
Violet & Daisy is a dark comedy. It has been placed in the "Action" genre in the stacks, but this is misleading. Sure, there are a couple of shoot-'em-up scenes; however, they play mostly for comic effect. The gunplay just enhances the absurd world that our two heroines exist in.  
 
Violet is played by Alexis Bledel, who grew up starring in "Gilmore Girls" for seven years on TV. She is the brains and brawn of a pair of professional hit-men. Daisy is the younger, less experienced partner, who is played by Academy Award-nominated actress, Saoirse Ronan. Together, the two are hired by Danny Trejo to take out sad sack Michael, who has such a strong death wish that he double-downs on his likelihood to die.
 
Michael is played by James Gandolfini, the actor who died last June at the age of 51. Michael is trying desperately to atone for his bad behavior as a widowed father, and ameliorate his teenage daughter's resentment. His wife, (her mother), passed away years back and Michael failed in his fatherly responsibilities...or at least failed in his daughter's eyes.   
 
Violet & Daisy are motivated by high fashion and a lack of conscience. The contracts they fulfill buy them pretty clothes. The secret to their success seems to be that they never have to have any contact with their victims. Who knows what would happen if they ever had to make eye contact or worse yet, speak to their victims before "poppin'em."  Maybe a movie might be made about that!       
dark comedy
Posted by jdunc on 11/26/13
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What would you do if your loved one, long gone from your life, suddenly returned from the dead? The Returned is the debut novel by Jason Mott that explores the emotional reaction as the dead suddenly return to the living. Set in the small town of Arcadia, North Carolina, The Returned focuses on a family who lost their eight-year-old son in a tragic accident 50 years ago. Suddenly, Jacob shows up on their doorstep, just as “the returned” start reappearing all over the world looking to reunite with family. The book explores how seeing long lost loved ones stirs up forgotten feelings fear, loss, and regret. 

As the number of the returned increases, the government and military attempt to control the situation. Intertwined in the human emotions are questions of politics and religion.  The chilling story grabbed my attention from the first chapter and I kept reading to find out what will happen to the returned. The book provokes questions about death, grief, and acceptance. The Returned has been optioned for a TV show on ABC, titled Resurrection set to air in March 2014. The Sundance Channel is currently airing a French drama set around a similar topic, also titled The Returned. I’ll be tuning in to see how this haunting book plays out on the small screen.
Posted by cstoll on 11/25/13
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Having recently assisted at the library’s Chick Lit Book Discussion group a couple weeks back, I came away with a new Chick Lit Author, Jane Green to give a try.  I took home her most recent title Family Pictures.
 

While many of my beloved authors (Marian Keyes, Jennifer Weiner, Meg Cabot), who write in this genre, tend to keep things lighthearted and fun, Green’s story was both full of that playful, fast-paced style yet she weaves in a more serious tone, which I came away appreciating. I was refreshed by the realness of the different generations of female characters she introduces through the two families in this story. Real life issues are dealt with in this story, and yet there’s still enough of that enjoyable escapism that draws me to a Chick Lit story, to keep my interest. You’ll walk away from this book feeling as content as the characters are with the outcome of their life decisions. I’ll definitely be picking up another Jane Green book.

 

Interested in learning more about Chick Lit books and authors or are you already hooked? Keep an eye out on our online programs calendar or you can sign up for our e-newsletters and select the Author Visits/Literary Events box.

 
Posted by bweiner on 11/21/13
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Envision an ancient world as you travel through the Ice Age in this epic story of survival under extraordinarily challenging conditions. In Shaman, author Kim Stanley Robinson takes us on a right of passage with Loon, a young man trying to fulfill his destiny as a shaman of his tribe.
 
Enter the vivid landscape of a world covered in ice and snow and watch Loon try to survive the ritualistic passage into adulthood. The environment is his adversary and his salvation as he begins this trial with nothing but instinct and determination.
 
Hugo and Nebula award winner Kim Stanley Robinson writes intense, expressive science fiction with a solid ability to create new worlds. He is also a scientist, and his careful attention to the ecological details of this story makes it as informative as it is thrilling. Check out this book and breathe in the icy air in this pathway through the Ice Age.
S.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/19/13
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The authors called this their love letter to the written word. It is difficult to explain this book properly with being able to show it to you. And not just the cover, but the elegantly designed slipcase, the margin notes printed in different colors and in different hand-writings, the various postcards, doodled-on napkins and obituaries nestled between the pages at key points. S. is a collection of clues, there's even a decoder.
 
The story is about a woman who finds a book in the stacks of a library that has been written in. She responds to the notes and leaves the book for the owner to find. He responds to her, and the conversation begins. They are both interested in the author of the book they are writing in and their correspondence revolves around his mysterious life and career, at first. Eventually, they find a deeper connection.
 
J.J. Abrams is a Hollywood director and it shows. This is a thrilling mystery, full of cinematic intrigue. Both plots are compelling, though the contemporary story may attract more readers, the book they are writing in, The Ship of Theseus, is a very believable as an historical sea story in its own right.
 
This is such a fascinating format. It's well worth checking out just to thumb through, but it makes a very satisfying read if you can stay focused on the story with all that's going on.
Posted by mothic on 11/15/13
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Do you like to debate what makes art “art”? Then this is the story for you. This family drama introduces us to the Morels -Arthur, Penny and Will. They are a complicated group whose problems seem to stem from their strong feelings about art. When Arthur publishes his second book, a barely fictionalized account of his life with a shocking ending, his whole world turns upside down.
 
This story challenges us as reader to think about how we define art and how far we are willing to stretch that definition. An astute observation by a character in the book is that she sees “art and commerce at opposite ends of the hall.” This seems to be the thrust of the debate in this book. The Morels is a complex, layered story that I enjoyed even though the middle becomes a bit bogged down with background information and occasionally the writing feels heavy-handed (such as naming the main character “Art”). The ending, however, is surprising and intriguing and completely worth the wait.
 
 
Posted by jfreier on 11/14/13
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Madeline Hart, a rising star in the British political arena, has gone missing. She has been kidnapped and, in a message to the Prime Minister the kidnappers are demanding ten million pounds or she will die in seven days. Gabriel Allon, master Israeli assassin and art restorer is called in by the Prime Minister to repay a favor and find Madeline. Gabriel is told that Madeline was his mistress and someone is trying to topple the British government.
 
Gabriel brings in his trusted team and connections to various criminal elements to track her down before it's too late. Gabriel travels to Marseilles, the mountains of Provence. and finally to Moscow to save the Prime Minister and the English Girl. This book is another great thriller by Daniel Silva.
 
Suspense Spy
Posted by dnapravn on 11/13/13
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If you are anything like me you are having a difficult time waiting for the new season of Downton Abbey to begin. I can't wait to discover what's in store for the Crawley's and their servants this season. To make the time pass a little more quickly, you may want to get your fix of domestics by reading Jo Baker's latest novel, Longbourn. In it she imagines the belowstairs life of the Bennet household, the beloved family of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
 
While Pride and Prejudice follows the comings and goings of the Bennet family, Longbourn focuses on their small, often overworked domestic staff. Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper, does her best to keep everything running smoothly with the help of her aging husband, two young housemaids, Sarah and Polly, and the new footman, James. The novel focuses primarily on Sarah, who is bound and determined to decipher the mysterious appearance of the new footman in addition to completing all of her household duties.  
 
This was a fun, quick read that, in my opinion, stayed respectful to Austen's beloved classic. Enjoy! The Crawley family and their servants will be back in no time.

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