Staff Choices

Posted by bpardue on 09/13/19
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Emmy-winning documentarian John Chester and his wife Molly (a chef with a dedication to traditional foods) are evicted from their apartment because their dog, Todd, barks too much when they're not around. They sense he needs more space. What do they do? Start a farm, of course! To increase the challenge, they choose a decrepit, run-down farm with poor soil, and they want to bring it back to life using organic, sustainable methods. Needing copious advice, they team up with biodiversity guru Alan York, who suggests that, if done right, the soil can be revitalized and the various agricultural elements they introduce can help regulate weeds and pests naturally, ultimately making the farm almost self-sustaining. Of course, there are enormous challenges they face--it will be several years before the farm can be productive, and there are pests and predators to deal with. Every success seems to have an accompanying setback--fruit is damaged, animals are attacked. There are some scenes that are sad, painful, even gruesome, but they all feel essential to the story. Even so, there are wondrous, joyful and humorous moments that reinforce hope--and the animals simply steal the show. Can the Chesters succeed without compromising their ideals? Chester depicts the highs and lows of their adventure unflinchingly, and ultimately gives us an uplifting saga.
Posted by JoanL on 09/09/19
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In Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, journalist Sarah Smarsh details her Midwestern background in Kansas and addresses the harsh realities of generational struggles with poverty. In writing the book to an imaginary daughter, she pushes back on societal assumptions about the working poor. Detailing the exhausting hours farming entails dispels the most hurtful insult of laziness. How can families working long days in multiple jobs, only to come home and work the land to fill the American bread baskets, still need welfare to barely scrape by?

The Homestead Act, the 80’s farming crisis, agribusinesses, drugs, teen pregnancy, abuse and low wages are just some of the obstacles to the American dream Smarsh points out. She is the first in her family to “break the cycle” and her book describes all of the painful steps it took for her to get there. Attending 8 different schools by ninth grade disrupting her life and her education every time, is just one of the many hurdles she faces.

Along the lines of “Hillbilly Elegy”, “Educated” and “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” , as well as " The View From Flyover Country", Sarah Smarsh gives us plenty of perspective and experiences to discuss poverty and the working poor in America.
Posted by LucyS on 08/31/19
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Gravity is the Thing is a self-help book, sort of, in fiction. Abi Sorensen is the owner of the Happiness Café and mother of four-year-old Oscar. She and several others have been invited to an all-expenses paid retreat to learn the truth about The Guidebook, something that all the participants have all been receiving in mysterious, out-of-sequence and puzzling chapters since they were teenagers. Abi has always associated this book with a tragic event from her youth and hungers for answers.
At first, the story may seem illogical or absurd but I found it to be a uniquely told novel about hope, trust, coping with grief and with motherhood. It is optimistic, sad, self-deceiving, bittersweet and romantic. Abi is taken on a long journey of introspection about past decisions and her belief that she was solely responsible for the emotional health of many of her relationships.
Author Jaclyn Moriarty has written several novels for young adults and children. This is her first novel for adults.
Posted by NealP on 08/29/19
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Brian Evenson’s latest collection of stories, Song for the Unraveling of the World, are as fantastic as they are terrifying.  A man discovers items mysteriously disappearing from his apartment.  A new pair of glasses reveal shadow-like creatures. 
Most of these 22 tales begin with a mystery or an anomaly, which may or may not be resolved in terms of traditional horror or science fiction stories.  Evenson’s writing is unique within the horror and sci-fi genres.  His writing style is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft and Shirley Jackson, but also contains elements of Franz Kafka, Raymond Carver, and Cormac McCarthy.
Song for the Unraveling of the World is an eclectic collection that is unique within the familiar constraints of horror and sci-fi.  Evenson’s ability to have stories occupy genre, but remain unique is fascinating and worth your time.
Posted by jonf on 08/29/19
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British best selling thriller author Kit Carradine meets a fan named Robert Mantis who he assumes is just a normal fan. That changes when Mantis says he is a member of MI6 and would Kit like to spy for them.
Having written thrillers for years, Kit is thrilled to live the live he's written about. He is asked to deliver cash to a man in Morocco and also find a woman named Lara Bartok. Kit finds out quickly that real life spying is much different his novels are.
In Morocco Kit finally finds Lara, only to find out she is the former lover of Ivan Simakov, leader of a group that targets right wing journalists and politicians. The Russian and Americans are after Lara and Ivan, and Kit finds that Mantis isn't totally honest about his claims. 
This is Charles Cummings first novel featuring Kit, it is fun, great locales and a believable love story.
Spy Suspense
Posted by Alisa S on 08/27/19
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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is a straightforward historical novel based on real life events. I think many readers will enjoy this tale of a blue-skinned (due to a hereditary blood disorder)  Appalachian woman who becomes a pack horse librarian as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration.  The plucky daughter of a dirt poor coal miner, Cussy Carter has been ostracized her entire life due to the color of her skin and her impoverished upbringing. Becoming a "book woman", travailing mule-back on hazardous mountainous trails to deliver reading materials to isolated and often distrustful customers, has given her life purpose and a measure of dignity. 
Despite Cussy loving her job and her independence, her father remains determined to marry her off, with disasterous results. There is just enough danger and romantic intrigue to keep one turning the pages.
I listened to the audiobook version of the novel through Hoopla, and the narrator does an excellent job with the Kentucky accents and vernacular.
On a side note, British author JoJo Moyes is covering the same period of history, and the Kentucky traveling library program, in her soon to be released novel The Giver of Stars. It should be very interesting to compare the two books.
Posted by BARB W on 08/24/19
If you liked Hamilton, the odds are very good that you will enjoy SIX, the captivating musical on CD by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss.

The six wives of Henry VIII are the stars of this show, and wow, do these women have a lot to say! The rollicking opening number, Ex-Wives, introduces us to the six, who would like us to know the truth about their lives and deaths. This is a competition to see who has suffered the most. And don’t we all love a little history in our Broadway musicals!

The numbers alternate between hilarity and sincerity. The music is electrifying, moving easily from pop-rock, to electronic, to hip-hop and ballads. The modern retelling of Henry and his wives is fun and informative, cheeky and audacious, and definitely worth a listen!
Posted by bpardue on 08/22/19
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Perhaps you've enjoyed some shaved truffles atop some exotic dish at an upscale restaurant, but have you considered the process that guided that truffle from the forest to the kitchen? Ryan Jacobs takes a look at the dark side of the truffle trade, with its shady off-book deals, episodes of violence (including dognappings and poisonings) and fraudulent products. The Truffle Underground is a multinational tale of intrigue, full of flamboyant characters and dirty dealings. Consider it a worthy read after our One Book, One Village choice, The Feather Thief.
Posted by SherriT on 08/13/19
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In Alex Michaelides debut novel, The Silent Patient, Alicia Berenson appears to have it all. She is a well-known painter and her husband is a famous fashion photographer. What would motivate this seemingly content woman to shoot her husband five times in the face and then never speak again? Psychotherapist, Theo Faber, is desperate to work with Alicia to see if he can breakthrough her silence and finally get to the truth.

As it turns out, Alicia feels a draw to Theo as well. At a slow, but not tedious and incredibly suspenseful pace, Alicia begins to open up and little pieces of her story are shared for the reader and Theo to put together. What follows is a suspenseful, thrilling and surprising story that fans of B. A. Paris and Clare Macintosh will thoroughly enjoy.

An adaption of this twisty best-selling novel is in development and will soon come to the big screen.
Posted by JoanL on 08/03/19
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May Attaway is turning 40 and has realized her life might be lacking. As a gardener at a local university, she finds herself more comfortable with trees than people. Living with her father in her childhood home, May starts to wonder how she got to such a place of separateness. “I don’t have a daughter and I don’t know if I ever will. But if I do we will not carry this sadness forward. I’m tired of holding it.”

An unexpected reward of time off has May deciding she will spend the time reconnecting with those who knew her at a different time as she begins to cobble together the pieces. Thinking about a reverse Odyssey “What if Penelope had left?” or a friendless Beowulf, May packs Emily Post’s book on etiquette, a suitcase she has named Grendel and heads out. Each visit reflects on her past, as well as the observation that life is generally complicated.

In Rules for Visiting, Jessica Francis Kane gives us a thoughtful and touching story, and a character you will find yourself rooting for.
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