Staff Choices

Posted by bpardue on 03/04/15
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Jazz saxophonist Chris Potter leads a large chamber jazz ensemble in this thrilling new set of songs, the centerpiece of which is the four-part "Imaginary Cities" suite. Potter's compositions move seamlessly between moods, from muscular to brooding to exultant, and the ensemble playing is magnificent. There are hints of 20th century classical music, middle eastern and south Asian accents and straight-ahead funk-inflected jazz. The overall effect is very cinematic. One of potter's real accomplishments is the way he's worked the string ensemble into the arrangements. They don't merely sweeten the sound or add background for playing over, but rather become an integral part of the group, helping move the compositions along. Especially listen to Indian-influenced strings in the album's closer, "Sky." This will probably be on many jazz critics' "Albums of the Year" list. If the CD isn't on shelf, you can also borrow it on your mobile device or PC via hoopla.
Posted by crossin on 03/03/15
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With the winter dragging on, you and your children may be going a little stir crazy. Why not celebrate the cold? Use the weather as a great excuse to have a family movie marathon! Pick up a few DVDs from the library, put on your jammies, pop some corn and snuggle in for the day. To help you out, the folks at TimeOut recently shared their list of favorite kids' movies to watch as a family. Some may be obvious choices, but I'm sure there are several you haven't seen.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 02/17/15
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One hundred thousand years ago, at least six distinct human species coexisted on this planet. So why has Homo sapiens come to be the sole heir of our biological heritage?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is an amazing undertaking, covering the entire history of humans on Earth. Harari starts with our earliest evolutions and poses some interesting questions about why we ended up dominating the evolutionary landscape. Examining biological changes, social changes and the advent of technology, he explains what makes us so good at surviving.
The part of the book that I found most compelling was his analysis of the role of story and religion in our civilization. The idea that money, nations, religion, law and, in fact, most things that drive our society, are “fictions” that we have collectively developed over time to maintain order was fascinating. Harari goes on to speculate about our future evolutions and how we will almost certainly have a role in determining those changes.
Sapiens combines anthropology, sociology, history, economics and science to explain where we came from and where we are possibly heading.
Posted by lsears on 02/16/15
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Can you be an unwilling participant in the Witness Protection Program?
Jay Johnson discovers the answer when he is abducted by Federal agents who only identify themselves as Public and Doe. Waking from a drugged stupor Jay finds himself handcuffed in protective custody. The agents will not tell him why; they argue it is better if Jay tells them.  In short order, his previous life has been erased.  He is set up with a new life on Catalina Island with a faux family, a wife and daughter who are strangers to him.  Effectively, he is a prisoner on the island, powerless.  
In his former life, Jay had once worked for a company that used lab mice to conduct experiments. Is Jay part of an experiment? What is memory? Is he paranoid? Is he losing his mind? Is this mistaken identity? What does he know that can help the Federal agents’ investigation? Can he trust anyone?  As the story intensified and Jay schemed to free himself of this nightmare, I found myself asking the same questions baffling Jay.
Author Daniel Pyne’s artful storytelling in Fifty Mice had me waffling between believing Jay or believing the Federal agents.  The book drew me along on a suspenseful, gripping ride all the time wondering if this could really happen.
Mystery, Suspense
Posted by bweiner on 02/12/15
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There are support groups for almost everything these days. Join Dr. Jan Sayer as she facilitates therapy for people who have survived unspeakable trauma and continued psychologically painful experiences in Daryl Gregory’s new thriller, We Are All Completely Fine.
This is quite a cast of memorable characters: from Stan, who survived captivity with cannibals, although he sports a few less appendages, to Barbara, who carries secret messages etched on her bones courtesy of a scrimshander. Dr. Sayer is aware of their continued anxiety, and encourages the group to bond and work through their problems. Unfortunately, something dark and malicious is released through their sessions, and the danger escalates for the entire group…
Part horror, part psychological thriller, Daryl Gregory keeps us in uncomfortable suspense while managing to wrest a few chuckles along the way. If you like your horror fun, fast and frenzied, this is the book for you!
Posted by bpardue on 02/10/15
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The Martian is getting a lot of buzz as a tale truly for nerds...but don't let that put you off. In the not-so-distant future, astronaut Mark Watney is alone on Mars after his fellow crewmates are forced to abandon him for dead. He has no communication equipment and a limited supply of food. How can he possibly let earth know he's alive and survive long enough to be rescued? Luckily, he's an inventive guy and starts figuring out how to use the tools at hand to help improve his odds. To a great extent, this is a good, old-fashioned adventure story. There are certainly messages about human ingenuity and determination, but Weir never strays too far from the task at hand--trying to get Watney home. Of course, there are plenty of suspenseful twists and turns. For the true science geeks, there is a LOT of well-researched detail put into various fixes and procedures, but those less enthusiastic about the very technical aspects can gloss over those a bit and just get the gist of things while going along with the general plot. A quick, fun read, well-paired with Mary Roach's Packing for Mars. While you're waiting for the movie version (with Matt Damon) to come out, you might enjoy watching Robert Redford's All Is Lost for another sort of one-man-against-the-elements tale.The Martian​ is also available in eBook, audiobook and large type.
Posted by Kelley M on 02/03/15
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There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…
If you like the writing styles of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, Sarah Dunant, Donna Tartt or Tracy Chevalier, you might want to give this historical fiction read a try.  The Miniaturist takes place in seventeenth century Amsterdam.  Nella Ortman, an eighteen-year-old, comes to Amsterdam, to begin her life as a married woman.  She marries Johannes Brandt, a merchant trader, who sails the seas.  She is left to her lonesome quite often with the house servants & Johannes’ harsh sister Marin. 
Nella’s husband, Johannes, buys Nella quite the extravagant wedding gift, a furniture-sized model of the Brandt household.  Nella seeks out a miniaturist to make furnishings for the replica-sized home.  The artist starts to make items that mirror life and foretell future happenings. 
Through the story, you get a great feel for race, sex and class issues in seventeenth century Europe.  I found that the novel did a good job of transporting me to seventeenth century Amsterdam.  The author has a gift for writing descriptive prose, without overwhelming the reader. This is Jessie Burton’s first novel.
Posted by jkadus on 02/03/15
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It's February!  Amongst the many "holidays" we celebrate this month, the one that most often gets the least fanfare is Presidents' Day.  Although the holiday traditionally honors two of our most famous Presidents with Februrary birthdays, let's break tradition for one year and celebrate ALL our Presidents.  Let's wander through the Fiction stacks and enjoy some historical fiction this month.
Posted by jdunc on 01/28/15
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Yes, we are a little beyond Christmas and on our way to Spring but Christmas at Tiffany’s, by Karen Swan, has surprisingly little to do with Christmas. In fact if you are looking to escape to some of the most magnificent cities around the world, then Christmas at Tiffany’s offers the perfect vacation. Cassie, Suzy, Kelly, and Anouk have been best friends since they met over fifteen years ago at boarding school. Cassie settled in the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Kelly is a fashionista in New York city, Anouk is a chic jewelry designer in Paris and Suzy is a fabulous wedding planner in London.
During her tenth wedding anniversary party, surrounded by her three best friends, Cassie learns her husband has a child with another woman. Devastated by this revelation, Cassie flees into the arms of her three best friends. It is decided that Cassie will spend the next year of her life living in New York, Paris, and London as she puts the pieces of her life back together and tries to discover what she is meant to do. It is exciting to follow Cassie on her journey as she tests out the fashion industry in New York, works with a Michelin star chef in Paris, and finally put the pieces together in London. Through it all she meets new friends, has a little romance, and rediscovers herself.
Fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Jane Green will thoroughly enjoy Christmas at Tiffany’s!
Posted by dnapravn on 01/27/15
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In The Magician's Lie the Amazing Arden is one of the country's most famous illusionists, performing to a packed house each night. On the night of her performance in Waterloo, Iowa she mixes it up a bit, performing her famous sawing a man in half trick with an ax instead of a saw. Later that evening a man is found dead below stage with an ax in his chest and Arden is nowhere to be found. Small-town lawman, Virgil Holt, catches up with her, the obvious suspect, and takes her to his town jail, wanting to hear her story for himself before he turns her over to the sheriff in Waterloo.
And so the story begins. Rather than sharing the details of just that night, Arden insists upon her innocence and spins a story going all the way back to her childhood. But what information is pertinent to the case, and just how much should Officer Holt believe?
The Magician's Lie was a quick, suspenseful read and a fun one to start off the New Year.
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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