Staff Choices

Posted by cclapper on 10/12/11
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From Malone, New York, 1960 -- to Today: Do you ever listen to  Sound Opinions on NPR (National Public Radio)?  Those two guys are just so into music that their passions open my eyes to all kinds of expression that I've never even thought about.  And what I'm talking about right now is Punk.
I've never been a Punk fan (that I know of) but Greg and Jim have spoken often -and highly- of the seminal Punk band Hüsker DüI heard their interview with one of the founding members, Bob Mould, and his story caught me.  Growing up for him  wasn't easy.  The early Punk scene wasn't easy, either.  Almost nobody made money, and bands commonly gave each other a place to crash when they were touring.  But  this band made it work for some time, and went on to influence many of the biggest bands out there today.
So when I saw Bob Mould's new biography,  I picked it up.  Mr. Mould's story is impressive.  From an early love of music and math, to his growing involvement in the first beginnings of the Punk movement, to the stresses of managing the band's growing success. From growing up in a very conservative home, then struggling with his sexuality and concerns with how it might affect the perception of the band, he's had a wild ride.
Professional wrestling even works its way in there.  Some odyssey.
You may not feel unalloyed admiration for anyone in this book- including Mr. Mould.  He is exceptionally honest about a great many things, including some of his own failings.  But his honesty and his simple words about how he faced many of the concerns in his life led me to respect him.  Many folks, especially people coming to terms with their own sexuality, will find great strength here.
Plus a great many really interesting details about life in the Punk age, and beyond.
Thanks Greg and Jim!  ROCK ON!!
Posted by mingh on 10/11/11
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Scottish Detective Sargeant Alex Morrow, five months pregnant, is investigating the brutal murder of a 24 year old woman whose mother has just died. The woman was able to call 999 but was not able to talk directly to Emergency Services. So they have the phone call and can hear some of what happened but they are struggling to find a reason for the attack.
However, Alex Morrow has some secrets of her own. Her Father was a notorious criminal as is her brother and nephew. She has left the family behind and their name, but lives in fear that her co-workers in the police department will find out
In Kent, England, an older man who has invested and lost people's money in the recession has just hung himself. His son and daughter, both schooled in posh private schools, rush home to their Mother. Then the phone calls from their Father's other family begin.
Author Mina takes the reader on an adventure of secrets, finance, and what family and love means in this absorbing mystery. We get to see how DS Morrow starts put the pieces of these different events together into one puzzle. She struggles to work in an environment where men are suspicious of female officers and even more suspicious of pregnant ones.
Great characters are developed in this literary mystery. The action moves along at a steady pace as DS Morrow begins to see the big picture. This is Denise Mina's second crime novel and here is hoping we have more.
Mystery, Scotland
Posted by cclapper on 10/07/11
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Text !... Design !!... FONTS !!!  Street signs.  Subway signs.  Traffic signs.  Magazine covers. Contracts.  Bills (ugh.)  Television (print on screen!
Computers.  Flashing across your screen- how much is text?
Then the hero in your movie glances up at the sign above that dangerous-looking door he's going through-
Oh yes, magazines.  Books of course.  And, yeah, that new eReader.
We read the world.  And fonts stand like glass between us and what we read: transparent or distorted.  Comic, serious, bold, meek.  Big.  Small.  Slanted.  Fonts change how we read.
A sometimes wild ramble thorough everything related to fonts.  Humorous, particular, and rambunctious, Mr. Garfield takes us on a tour of font history and the men and women who craft, love, hate (and even destroy) fonts.  Font designers have strong opinions.  Print designers connect emotionally with their tools.  There have been interesting events along the way.     
Some fonts are featured, and a couple of characters (glyphs, that is) get special attention, but this is not a detailed textbook on font anatomy or construction.  Occasionally I wanted even more detail, but Mr. Garfield is fascinated with fonts, and shows us why.
Since the advent of computers, we all have the ability to typeset what we write.  And we see how fonts change our message.  More and more of us want to reach out and find just the right characters for those words...  So we're falling for fonts.  Want great tidbits for parties?  Or hot topics to discuss late into the night with that writer?  Lots here. 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/05/11
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Josie Henderson is a rarity in that she is a black woman in a field dominated by white men. She is an oceanographer with a specialty in marine mammal research. She is married to a white man, Daniel, and lives in a white neighborhood in Wood's Hole, Massachusetts. As she deals with the pressure of her work and her husband's desire to have a baby that she doesn't want, she is drawn back into the dysfunction of her family. Growing up in Cleveland, Josie's father was an alcoholic who had started out life with aspirations of becoming an author. Josie's mother was a tough but loving nurse, who kicked her husband out of the house once his drinking had gotten beyond control. Josie's brother, Tick, had a promising start. He and Josie had gone to private school and worked hard. While Josie studied science, Tick got work as a trainer for the Cleveland Cavalier's. He jeopardizes his job with his drug problems and relies on Josie to save him.
Written in a clear and frank style, The Taste of Salt  is an honest family story of identity and pain. Josie's dissatisfaction with her marriage and ambivalence about motherhood are well-defined and relatable elements. This book was well worth reading for the look into the heart and mind of an African-American woman who is trying to reconcile her heritage and her ambition.
Posted by jfreier on 10/04/11
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Detective Carl Morck  has just returned to duty after being shot and losing his partner in a shootout and is not sure he's ready to work again. Carl is a brilliant but difficult detective and is promoted to Department Q of which he is the only member, he is assigned cold cases and plans to do as little as possible in his so called promotion job.
Carl is doing just that until he comes across the case of Merete Lynggaard a beautiful and powerful politician who vanished 5 years ago. The case calls for Carl to demand an assistant and he is given Syrian born Assad who is a quirky but valuable aide, together they find if Merete jumped off a ferry or was abducted and is still alive. A great suspense story filled with a stellar protagonist and and an aide who also adds some humor and lightness to the book. This book would appeal to fans of "Jo Nesbo", "Henning Mankell", "Karin Fossum".
Posted by on 10/03/11
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Portland OR is experiencing the worst rain in decades there are parallels between the current fictional natural disaster and one which actually did completely wipe out Willamette River City more than 60 years earlier. As the water is quickly rising in the town of Vanport several people have been swept away by the flood waters and the coroner soon discovers puncture wounds and learns the victims were dead before they entered the flood waters. Even more unusual is how they were poisoned by one of the most bizarre methods, deadly toxin from an exotic octopus sting. As the skeletal remains turns up we soon learn there are several more bodies first thought that they were victims of the flood waters. Homicide Detective Archie Sheridan is once again on the trail with his side kick quirky reporter Susan Ward. Unlike the first three books where Gretchen Lowell, the “Beauty Killer” is a main character she is only mentioned in passing.
There's a mildly intriguing subplot involving a young boy who may be working with the killer, Sheridan heroically rescues a young boy from the floodwaters, only to have the boy disappear from the hospital. As Sheridan races against time to find the killer, he together Susan Ward believes the child is tied into the case.
For those that are new to the series you can read this novel without reading the other three novels:
Evil at Heart (Sept 2009) Thriller 3
Sweetheart (Sept 2008) Thriller 2
Heartsick (Sept 2007) Thriller 1
Fiction, Thriller
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/03/11
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New to our collection, this book is a collection of short fiction stories (some never published in book form) by arguably the greatest mystery write of all time.  It includes Hammett's first ever published work, The Barber and his Wife (1922), Black Mask (1924), and This Little Pig (1934) that includes a recently discovered alternate ending.  It also has the first time published story, Another Perfect Crime.
Besides the fact that previously unpublished stories were discovered and printed, what makes this book a little more interesting is the format.  A great deal of reference work was done by the editor, Vince Emery.  Stories are introduced with background notes that set the table with the why, when, and  the where, Hammett's creations were served. 
These editor notes put into perspective the drive Hammett had to be a writer and the turmoil he had to overcome to feed himself and his family.  He was paid a penny a word for his first published story.   The sum was a whopping $1.13.  Emery goes one step further and lets his readers know what a penny could purchase back in the day.
One of the ways to measure an artist's success is if his work is still in demand long after he passes.  Hammett died in 1961.   Loyal fans still crave his craft.  Just seeing this book on a shelf in AHML brought back memories of nights tucked under the covers, escaping to fantasy worlds made up of hard-bitten private-eyes, leggy molls moaning in distress, and rich, power-hungry elitist forcing their will upon the meek.    
Posted by mingh on 09/28/11
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A long time ago, two magicians have a falling out over which is stronger, chaos or control. At the turn of the 20th century, they decide to have a contest to see which one of them might get the better of the other. The contestants will be students of theirs taught only by the methods preferred by that magician. The students know that at some point in their lives the contest will begin. But they may not know when it begins and who their opponent is. That will all eventually be revealed.
And as the two great magicians watch, their students Celia and Marco grow fonder of each other. Should the older magicians step in? After all, love has no part in the contest.
The Night Circus is a great work of fantasy and illusion. Many people make up the characters that run the Circus of Dreams as it calls itself. There are twins who never grow old. A fantastic clockmaker who can almost control time and a contortionist who can contort her body into beautiful creations. We meet them through their interactions with Celia and Marco. Celia joins the circus as an illusionist. Marco becomes the assistant to the proprietor. But they are both inexorably drawn to each other.
The language of the story flows in colorful streams of invention and imagination. The characters are vividly described as are their relationships. This is a book to get lost in just as the circus goers must be directed to leave lest they lose themselves in the Circus of Dreams. A wonderful debut.
Fiction, magic
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/26/11
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Dr. Martin Harris is a leading scientist in his field.  A ground-breaker.  He is at the threshold of a major scientific breakthrough.  Plants talk to him.  He has a beautiful wife and promising life.  Or does he?  

Martin wakes one day in a Paris hospital where he finds he has been in a coma for several
days.  He learns that while traveling in a taxi he was involved in an accident resulting in
his hospitalization.  Thankfully his injuries are minor.

His minor injuries soon become a major problem.  It seems that while he was out cold, Martin's
identity was stolen, on a grand scale.  Even Martin's wife denies knowing him; along with the
man she's sharing her bed with who claims to be the real Dr. Harris.  With no passport or
wallet, Martin turns to the cabbie that was driving the taxi during their accident and the
physician who is treating him for some support.

Martin's support circle grows thin, while evidence keeps mounting that Martin might not be
who he claims. Even Martin starts to wonder if he is the brunt of some elaborate hoax or
slowing going insane.  What follows is a tightly constructed suspense story that leads to an surprising ending.

This book is new to our collection; however, it was previously published under the title: Out
of My Head
.  It also was adapted to film with Liam Neeson in the starring role.  It is less than 200 pages and adapted well to the big screen.  Like in most adaptations, reading the book first before viewing the film is the best course.   

Posted by Ultra Violet on 09/25/11
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Quentin, Julia, Eliot and Janet are established as the kings and queens of the magical land of Fillory after their harrowing adventures in the first book in this trilogy, The Magicians. It is well worth reading or re-reading the first book because there are many references to specific occurrences from it. The first book set up the story of our anti-hero, Quentin, and how he goes from a depressed introvert in Brooklyn to being a student at an exclusive school for magic. (Yes, it's a bit like Harry Potter, but it is decidedly darker). In this second book, Quentin finds the life of a magician king to be a bit boring. He longs for the days of danger and adventure. When trouble shows up, the others are content to leave it be, but Quentin jumps head-long into the depths of peril, while being forced to face his past and his inner self.
There is not quite the happy ending in The Magician King that there was in the first book, but if there is meant to be a third, that makes sense. It is a bit of a cliff-hanger. I have read reviews on both sides of the fence about this one. No one seems to be neutral about this book. You either love it or hate it. I couldn't stop reading it and I closed it thinking, "I can't wait for the next one!"
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