Staff Choices

Posted by bweiner on 02/19/14
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HHhH(2012) is the mesmerizing story of Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, recruited by the British Secret Service to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, also known as " The Butcher of Prague". Heydrich, often called the Architect of the Holocaust, was responsible for the deaths of countless Jews during World War II.  French author Laurent Binet has crafted an intricate tale: part historical and part glorious imagination that actualizes this transformative event in the history of the Holocaust.
 
But there is more to this brilliant narrative than the documentation of this important historical event.Binet's postmodern approach reminds us to be skeptical in our analysis of historical events and to rely on our own clarification of events. His attention to detail and to the maintenance of historical integrity elevate this novel to the status of a postmodern classic.
 
This story digs deeply into historical significance while maintaining  the suspicious eye of an author writing in a postmodern, post-9/11 world. The writing is engrossing, elegant and graceful, and the thrilling narrative will keep you interested till the end. We can only hope that Laurent Binet will continue to delight us with his exquisite storytelling skills.
Posted by dnapravn on 02/09/14
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It has been awhile since I read and enjoyed the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith, so a few weeks ago when I stumbled upon Trains and Lovers, one of his newer stand alone novels, I thought I'd give it a try.
 
The story follows four strangers traveling by train from Edinburgh to London. They start by sharing polite conversation (with no cell phones or devices in sight) and eventually each share a story of how a train or train travel had an effect on their lives. A young Scotsman tells of meeting a young woman while working as an intern and an image of a train in a piece of art. An Englishman shares the story of getting off at the wrong stop during a business trip and impulsively asking a mysterious woman to dinner. An Australian woman shares how her parents met and ran a station in the Australian Outback. An American male sees two men saying good-bye and recalls a relationship from long ago.
 
I find McCall Smith to be a wonderful storyteller who's clear and simple style moves the story along. This was a quick and enjoyable read on a cold winter day.
Fiction
Posted by jfreier on 01/30/14
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One year after the JFK assassination a rash of suspicious suicides catch the attention of Chicago P.I Nathan Heller.
When he and his son are almost run down Nathan teams up with famous columnist Flo Kilgore to investigate.
 
The suicides aren't what they seem and lead to LBJ's henchman Mac Wallace and New Orleans mafia kingpin, Carlos Marcello.
Bobby Kennedy gives Nathan the go ahead to investigate and how it may tie in to the failed Mongoose operation to kill Fidel Castro.
Max Allan Collins is excellent at bring real figures to life in his Nathan Heller series, one of most enjoyable. Flo Kilgore was based on famous columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.
Posted by jdunc on 01/30/14
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If you are intrigued by the Amanda Knox trial and ongoing saga like I am, then Cartwheel is the book for you. The novel, written by Jennifer DuBois, is a fictional account loosely based on the Amanda Knox story. In Cartwheel, Lily is studying abroad in Argentina when she discovers her roommate has been murdered and Lily becomes the prime suspect. What unravels is a compelling story and deep character descriptions told from several points, including Lily’s divorced parents, her wealthy recluse boyfriend, and the prosecutor in the case.
 
Like the Amanda Knox story, you never quite know if Lily is truly innocent. Her bizarre behavior in the aftermath of the murder, including doing a cartwheel after her interrogation, leads you to question her innocence. Is she guilty of murder or is she just a naive young woman who doesn’t understand the consequences of her actions? As her sister Anna says, she has always been “weird”. As the story unfolds you become entranced with the characters’ lives and relive the events leading up to the murder. It is an intriguing look at how interpretations of actions and behaviors can make someone look guilty of murder.
 
In case you are interested, here is the link to the most recent twist in the Amanda Knox trial.
Posted by jkadus on 01/30/14
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Ah, February!  For such a short month, it is surprisingly full of reasons to celebrate!  Groundhogs, Presidents, and most important of all, Love!  Whether you're searching for a new love, or rekindling the one you have, why not wander through the stacks and see if one of our books gives you the inspiration you need.  Remember, as the Beatles once said (well, sang) "All you need is Love"!
Posted by cstoll-resigned on 01/28/14
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My favorite authors being Dean Koontz, over the holidays one of my top priorities was to finish two of his novels - Life Expectancy & Innocence
 

Life Expectancy read true to a Koontz book, in that you are introduced to a new set of characters that you will fall in love with and cheer for. The plot has those twists and turns, that keep you on the edge of your seat, not being able to turn the pages fast enough. It’s the story of Jimmy Tock, who upon his birth, his grandfather predicts five days in his future that will have an unexpected impact on his life. A fast paced read, Koontz still keeps to his poetry like prose, which balances the story with a softness which his fans have come to expect and cherish from this amazing storyteller.

 

Innocence was different, not in a bad way but in being honest I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it at first. The protagonist being another strong female character, which I’ve come to appreciate from Koontz’s novels, yet Gwyneth reminds me more of a character from a Stieg Larsson novel. It’s as if she’s Koontz attempt to present a character which readers who live in a more digital environment can relate too, which I’m just not sold on if it worked or not. However, the timeless love story of Gwyneth and Addison, two lost souls who find each other against a cruel harsh world around them, kept me going and in the end did win me over with this novel.

 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 01/24/14
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Luscious, rich desserts that are easy to make, all natural and free of animal products!
I made three recipes from this book, Curry Truffles, Black Bottom Cupcakes and the Opera Cake, and they were all fabulous. The pictures are so enticing and the instructions are very easy to follow. Fran Costigan is pretty much the leading vegan baker in the universe, so all of the recipes are well-tested. She opens with an informative section about vegan sweeteners, dairy substitutes and different kinds of flours, which is helpful to anyone new to baking or new to veganism. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to people who are thinking about cutting back on the animal products in their diets. Even the most die-hard dairy lover will fall in love this these treats.
Posted by bpardue on 01/21/14
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Ralph Towner of the world-jazz group Oregon is perhaps the best known of these three guitarists (Towner, Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan), but this ensemble is a true collaboration. While the more famous guitar trio of Mclaughlin/Di Meola/De Lucia displayed overwhelming speed and virtuosity, Towner/Muthspiel/Grigoryan keep things, for the most part, quietly lyrical, with plenty of space for things to breathe. Towner and Muthspiel split the compositional duties down the middle, and all three contribute equally to the sound. Despite being a guitar trio, there's plenty of sonic variation, with Towner's distinctive 12-string and classical stylings, Muthspiel's gentle electric guitar and Grigoryan's classical and baritone guitars. Standout tracks include "Duende" by Towner and "Die Blaue Stunde" (The Blue Hours) and "Nico and Mithra" by Muthspiel. This is a beautiful album that bears repeated listening.
 
In addition to being available on CD, this album is always available for borrowing from the hoopla digital library.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/21/14
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Who's excited? I'm excited! Found a new suspense/mystery/thriller author. His name's Dan Smith and all four of his published books will soon be available for checkout in our catalog: Dry Season; Dark Horizons; Red Winter; and The Child Thief (which is the subject of this review). 
 
The setting is a remote valley, in the Ukraine, post WWII. The narrator is Luka, a darkened veteran of many Russian armies and many more bloody battles. What made him a survivor was the dream of returning to his hidden home, his enduring wife and the three children he's not seen in years. 
 
It's hard times indeed in his small rural community. The elements are brutal and the food scarce. Firearms were banned by the new ruling class; however, Luka was able to smuggle home his beloved rifle, which is the main tool he uses to put food in the stomachs of his loved ones. Everyone in his community lives in daily fear that they will be discovered by the Stalinists and placed in forced labor camps. 
 
While out hunting with his twin sons, Luka discovers a man, near-death, pulling a sled carrying two dead children. Common sense says why buy trouble...leave the man and the children to the wolves. But Luka is a humanitarian and brings the dying stranger into his home to heal him. When the community leaders learn that the dead-sled-children were abused, tortured, and likely used for feeding, they go on a killing frenzy themselves. Shortly thereafter, Luka's niece is kidnapped. It becomes clear to Luka that there's a stalking demon nearby and this steely soldier swears to track and rescue the child...but at what cost?
 
This book has a real feel to it.  The narrative is strong and the characters believable. It transported me to the frozen tundra where I did not want to leave until scores were settled.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Posted by bweiner on 01/16/14
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If you enjoy adventures into the afterlife, and if you like your humor dark, check out the latest entry in Chuck Palahniuk's crazy literary world, Doomed (2013).
 
Madison Spencer is the occasionally charming, unconventional thirteen year old heroine of this follow-up to 2011's Damned. But don't worry if you have not read the first book; I have not, and I had no trouble following our intrepid heroine as she finds herself trapped in Purgatory, which turns out to be nothing more than Earth. Her ghostlike form conceals her presence, as Madison unearths Satan's diabolical plan for the eternal damnation of humankind.
 
Chuck Palahniuk delivers a heroine who is smart, sassy, and exceedingly self-absorbed. This book is great fun to read, but it is also full of the deliciously shocking and irreverent moments that characterize his works. Nothing is off limits: religion, parenting, adolescence, social etiquette.
 
Let Chuck Palahniuk take you to hell and back in this entertaining, satirical and devilish novel.
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