Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 02/29/12
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In 1971 Sam Peckinpah released his film adaptation of this novel entitled "Straw Dogs" starring Dustin Hoffman.

In 2011 Rod Lurie released his remake of "Straw Dogs" but it was more an adaptation of the earlier film than the novel that originally inspired it.

Leave it to Hollywood to take a nice, neat novel and botch the big screen adaptation, not once, but twice.

First published in 1969, Gordon's book was a tight psychological thriller.  The protagonist was an introverted American author, George Magruder, married to an English lady (far above his station) that longed for returning to her homeland.  His passion for his work and her homesickness adversely affect their marriage and their 8-yr. old daughter, Karen. Together they agree to leave America and move to England
where they purchase a quaint British home known as Trencher's Farm.

This continental jump creates a chasm in the Magruder family that cannot be corrected.  George and Louise begin to bicker more frequently and Karen withdraws from being party to her parents' poor problem-solving practices.  

The country setting that they've settle in has an escaped mental patient, Henry Niles, on the prowl. He has been hospitalized for a history of murdering young girls.  Needless to say the town is outraged that a psychotic killer is on the loose.  How humans react when an alleged wild animal is on the hunt becomes the central theme.   At what lengths will a man go to protect himself and his loved ones?

If one has seen either of these film adaptations and found them interesting, then reading this book will undoubtedly be more fulfilling.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 02/26/12
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The Lady of the Rivers is the third book in Philippa Gregory's The Cousin's War series, a fictional accounting of the War of the Roses between the Lancasters and the Yorks for the crown of England.  The story of Jacquetta Rivers, the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, is an especially compelling one, particularly from the aspect of women's lives of this era.  It was a world completely controlled by men, and the only way that women could control their own destiny was through witchcraft or spirituality.  Said to be a descendant of the river goddess Melusina, Jacquetta was an eye-witness to one of the most important power struggles in British history.  She was the second most powerful woman in England in the early 1400's, and played a key role in the story of the York's and the Lacaster's rule.  Her daughter Elizabeth became the Queen of England when she married Edward IV, and again when she married Henry Tudor, King Henry VII, making Jacquetta Henry VIII's maternal grandmother.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 02/24/12
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If you love fun, bizarre historical facts, this is the book for you. It has brief entries about things throughout history that were created for beauty's sake. Some are small things like origami, some are entire buildings or magical gardens. Particularly interesting are the stories about chopines and the art of hot air ballooning. This is a great bedside reader since you can pick it up and read a single entry without a big investment in time. A most enjoyable read!
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/23/12
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This is the actress-turned-writer's long anticipated sequel to her first novel, Vampyres of Hollywood.  The premise of her first book was that many of the great actors past and present were vampires. The head of the movie studio, Anticipation, was, the centuries old, Ovsanna Moore.  Ovsanna joined forces with her human-Beverly-Hills-police-detective-turned-love-interest, Peter King, to battle the demon mother of all vampires.  They prevailed.

 In this book the plot continues the cute courtship of Peter and Ovsanna.  It always is a serious affair, when on Christmas Eve, you bring home to meet Mama, a vampire queen.  It doesn't help the relationship when one party of the couple is hiding the fact that a powerful Werewolf has already attempted to reconvert a member of the undead back to the dead-membership category.

Barbeau is no stranger to B-movie plots, having starred in several during her long Hollywood career.  Co-starring on the TV show Maude with Bea Arthur must have inspired some of the character strengths inherent to Barbeau's Vampire maven femme fatale...Ovsanna.

This time around Barbeau did not join forces with a co-writer as she did in her novel and is credited as the sole author.  Her biggest strength is that she does not take herself too seriously.  The tone of her books is campy.  She has created characters that are totally unbelievable; however, many have a place in Hollywood
history.  

Lookout Historical Fiction authors...there's a new player in town.

Posted by Pam I am on 02/21/12
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Nancy Jensen's debut novel takes the reader on a journey of two sisters lives over the course of eighty years.  Mabel and Bertie are living with their stepfather after their mother has died and it is a sad and tragic life filled with horrible secrets.  On the night of Bertie's graduation a misunderstanding leads to Mabel and Bertie seperating ways and each begins a new life far away from each other.   The reader then learns what happens to these sisters and their subsequent families over the course of decades.  Chapters are told from various women in the generations that follow.  There are secrets, lies and heartbreak that ties each generation together.  There is a family tree in the front of the book which was very helpful to keep track of the characters. 
Posted by jfreier on 02/17/12
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A  Red Cross nurse gets a call from a friend to pick up something in a public locker at the Copenhagen train station, Nina is stunned to find a suitcase with a naked and drugged 3 year old boy. Nina a nurse and one who needs to help sets out to find who and where the boy is from.
Karin the friend who asked for help is then found murdered and Nina realizes that she and her family may be in danger. Nina then takes over on a trek across Denmark to find the answer, yet another well written Scandanavian mystery.
Mystery
Posted by mingh on 02/04/12
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If you are watching Downton Abby, you might want to check out this book. Highclere Castle is where the British TV Show is filmed, But the writer, Julian Fellowes, also seems to have taken some of the life of the 5th Countess of Carnarvon as his inspiration for what happens on the show.
 
The 5th Countess of Carnarvon, Almina Wombwell, was the illegitimate daughter of the third son of the Rothschild family, bankers to Europe. The Carnarvon family was badly in need of an influx of cash when the Earl married her. This was the era when nobles would marry an American heiress or other woman with money. The most famous American was Consuelo Vanderbilt who went into a terrible marriage with the Duke of Marlborough. It was she who coined the term, "an heir and a spare," to explain what her role was in the marriage.
 
Alfred de Rothschild had many friends in high places. He threw lavish parties attended by all including the Prince of Wales. It was at these parties that he would present his daughter. Although not a traditional love match, the couple were very fond of each other. Lady Almina would follow the Earl to all corners of the earth to be near him. He was an adventurer and very interested in digging up antiquities. It was one of the excavations that he funded (with her money) that discovered King Tutankhamen's tomb.
 
When the First World War began it was Lady Almina who offered Highclere Castle as a hospital. She was very involved in nursing and believed in the best care. When she found that she could offer better care in London, as more doctors and surgeons would be available, she moved her "hospital" to London. Her care led to many more men surviving their wounds than would have happened without her.
 
You don't have to have watched Downton Abbey to enjoy this biography of a remarkable woman. This is the story of a woman who adapted easily to her time. Lady Almina worked hard and took advantage of her money to help others during the war and to assist her husband in his explorations. Written by the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, you will enjoy the parallels between real life and reel life.
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/31/12
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It was recently recorded that the cast and crew of the popular TV hit "Justified" begged creator Elmore Leonard to write a new book about the story's hero Raylan Givens.  Givens is a man in his mid-30's who always dreamed of becoming a US Marshall.  He is a throwback to the cowboys that use to fill the Saturday matinee screens in movie theaters across America.
 
A true cowboy is he.  He wears a distinctive-looking western hat at all times except when meeting women.  Then the hat is removed and held nervously in hand as he easily spews out some witty banter.  He routinely practices his quick draw.  He never "pulls" his piece unless the object of his action is forewarned of the probable outcome...their demise.  He always shoots to kill.  
 
This book reads like three short stories all interconnected.  There are three female leads; one good, two not so, that Raylan encounters.  The first is a tasteful transplant nurse who entices men into hotel rooms with the intent to surgically remove their kidneys and later sell them back to the victims.  Left naked and helpless in bathtubs full of ice, her victims have little choice but to become willing buyers. 
 
The second femme fatale is a cold-blooded coal mine executive who is out to screw the common man while filling her company's coffers.  After committing murder, she arranges to enlist the protection of a said US Marshall who has ties to the coal community that she is battling.  Raylan has sent seven souls to their damnation, but never has one been a woman.  Is there a first time for everything?
 
Everything comes to a close when Raylan tracks down a suspected lady bank robber on the lam.  She is a Texas-Hold'em-type-tart who was formerly an Ivy League A-student turned gambler whose goal is to win the poker championship of the world.  Raylan seldom lets himself get knocked from his horse, but he might have met his match when corralling this little filly.
 
No author today has the writing style of Elmore Leonard.  His ability to pen dialog that seems so real and effortless makes him stand apart from all.  As they say:   "...Often imitated, never duplicated...."
Posted by mingh on 01/23/12
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Former commercial Pilot Chip Linton and his wife Emily decide to move their family further away from the memories of Chip's horrific plane landing on Lake Champlain. Many people died and he is wracked with guilt. The Linton's, along with their twin daughters, move into a rambling Victorian house in a remote part of New Hampshire. Their neighbors seem polite and watchful of them and there is much for the family to do.
 
The twins begin to hear voices in the house. They can't see anyone but the voices are all around them. The Linton's find out more about the house and how it has been abandoned for many years after the suicide of the twelve year old son of the former owners. Chip Linton finds a small doorway in the basement that looks like it used to be the coal chute. However, it has 39 long bolts to seal it. The exact number of people who died in Chip's plane crash. He begins to unseal the bolts.
 
Chris Bohjalian creates wonderful well-rounded characters who are dealing with elements that they have never seen and never believed in. Chip begins to unravel and believes the voices. Emily, the Mother, knows that she has to save the twins, but from what? We have entered Stephen King territory.
 
Bohjalian does a great job of creating the suspenseful and spooky atmosphere that this book needs. Is this all happening in Chip's head? if not, what are the intentions of the townspeople? What really did happen in that house so many years ago? Read it to find out.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 01/20/12
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The book jacket exclaims:  "...James Bond meets Jason Bourne meets The Da Vinci Code..."  Not a bad comparison for a writer's first published novel.  The book cover goes on to state that this is Mariani's first book in his Ben Hope series.  And what a sensational series kickoff it is.
 
Ben Hope is a retired Major in an elite British military unit.  He now freelances as a man who solves problems.  His method of problem-solving usually ends in someone's demise.  Indulging in the finer spirits is Hope's way of coping with his job-related stress.
 
Adding to his stress level is his former love interest, the internationally known opera singer, Leigh Llewellyn.  Oliver, Leigh's brother, and Hope's best friend, is murdered.  Fearing for her life, Leigh begs Hope to become her personal protector.   It appears that Oliver stumbled upon information that might prove that Amadeus Mozart's death 200 years ago was not what the history books profess.   
 
It is common knowledge that Mozart was a Freemason.  The secret society has a long history and suspected sordid past.  With the newly found evidence that Oliver turns-up, the future of the Freemasons is in jeopardy.
 
This book has a little of everything...tight story telling, interesting character development, exotic locations, long last love rekindling, evil doers doing evil deeds, a precocious child, a loyal dog, action, suspense and a fragile, tragic hero. 
 
 
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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