Staff Choices

Posted by cclapper on 09/15/11
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Arctic Regions Above the Circle -- today: Edie Kiglatuk has lived all her life in this largely native community, but her father was an outsider. And some, particularly the Council of Elders won't forget that, even though she is one of the best local guides.  And good guides mean life or death.  "Qalunaat"  (people up from "the south")  think this is like home, just a bit colder.  The truth is that death is everywhere here... and may be unavoidable with just one or two missteps. As Edie guides two men on desolate Craig Island, a shot explodes and one client is down.  With no one else around.  Edie's life gets complicated.
M. J. McGrath has been recognized as "one of the best British writers under thirty-five."  This is her first novel- in what is hoped to be a new series.   Have you read the Nathan Active mysteries by Stan Jones?  .  Nathan is a native Alaskan Inupiak Alaska State Trooper, and White Heat reminds me of Jones' tales.  Experience the lives of modern Inuit/Inupiak- eye-opening.
Arctic, Inuit, murder
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/14/11
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James Patterson has the uncanny ability to create characters that his readers can care about.

In his latest non-series book, his main character, Matt Bannon, is a struggling artist living meagerly in New York City.  He comes from a generational family of Marines on his paternal side.  Maternally he's inherited the traits of a talented, creative, caring person. In order to not disappoint his parents, he enlists in the Marine Corps and becomes a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.  Upon his discharge he begins a life as a struggling artist.

Matt, next chapter in his artistic life, begins to brighten when he meets a beautiful art instructor, falls in love, and gets the opportunity to enroll in her prestigious school. His world is rocked when he accidently stumbles upon the assassination of a dirty diamond dealer by a smoke and mirrors professional hit-man called The Ghost.

The plot gets convoluted when the Russian mobster who hired the hit wants the bag of diamonds returned to him that Matt stole from the murder scene. Nathaniel Prince and his incestuous daughter, Natalia, are forces to be reckoned with.  Prince orders the services of The Ghost to find the diamonds at any cost.  

Like any successful mob kingpin, Prince's power structure is well insulated.  His orders are channeled through his long-time childhood friend and mob-captain, Chukov; a despicable derelict who will stop at nothing to save his own hide. Chukov in turn, has a pair of New York's finest who he orders to find the bag of gems and the thief. This thickening plot takes on the appearance of a guppy swimming in a sea of sharks.

Matt is no guppy nor minnow.  Unknowns to all the villains involved, the past and present events will be more like sharks swimming with several other sharks in a blood-frenzy.

This is one of Patterson's more suspenseful novels.  It is Hitchcockian in style and storyline.  Anyone fortunate to have this book be their first cast into the James Patterson pool of popular prose will undoubtedly be hooked.

Posted by mingh on 09/12/11
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The Leftovers opens with the Rapture. Well, some people believe it is the Rapture, others are not convinced, after all if it truly was the Rapture, why were Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and even Agnostics taken? This has confused some people and angered others.
Three years on, the world still turns. Kevin Garvey isn't sure what happened, but he is now mayor of Mapleton. His wife has left him for a sect that refuses to speak and uses cigarettes like talismans. His college age son worships at the feet of a new age guru, Holy Wayne, who encourages others to give him all their money while he marries multiple times. And Jill Garvey, the daughter in high school who always got straight A's, is struggling for the first time.
This is a story of trying to find meaning in a world where the rules have changed. Do you become wanton and greedy because it doesn't matter anymore? Or do you become extremely devout in the hopes of a second rapture? Each of the family members chooses a different path to the new normal. These are ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Author Tom Perrota explores what leads each of them to the path they are on.
At the heart of the story is Kevin Garvey, grieving husband and father. While his children and wife remain alive he sees the distance growing between them until they no longer contact him. Knowing he has lost his wife he still wants to keep in contact with her and with their son. Will he lose his daughter Jill also? The struggle to save what isn't lost is at the center of this story. Kevin Garvey struggles, as everyone struggles in this new world, but in the end he is rewarded with a little piece of salvation.
Fiction, Rapture
Posted by Pam I am on 09/12/11
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Alice Love has lost 10 years of her life!  When Alice wakes up on the floor of her gym after collapsing  and is whisked away by paramedics she believes she is 29 years old, happily married and expecting her first child.  In reality, Alice is 39, has three children and is in a bitter divorce with her husband, Nick.  Alice does not regain her memory and believes that her life should be as it was 10 years ago.  But, somehow her life has not turned out at all like she thought it would.  Her husband Nick, now a successful executive, despises her and is fighting over custody of the kids?  How did this happen . . .the last thing Alice remembers is being deeply in love and awaiting the birth of their first child.  She doesn't even know her three children.  Her once close relationship with her sister Elizabeth has somehow gone awry? She only remembers their closeness and doesn't know why they are distant.  Her mother has remarried.  And, she is now a busy PTA mom, running committees, dressing the part, and going to the gym everyday.  She doesn't even like exercise . . . does she?  Alice must decide how to put her life back together and how to mend relationships that she didn't even know she had lost.  This book is at times tense and angst filled but also funny and heart felt. 
Chick Lit
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 09/09/11
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It's been two years since the 9/11 terrorists attacks.  The panel of jurors to select a design for the Ground Zero memorial for the victims had been so careful to keep the hundreds of submissions anonymous.  They meticulously reviewed and voted on each design until they had eliminated all but two.  They each weighed in, argued and deliberated over each one.  Then the envelope with the name of the contest winner is opened.  The winner is an American Muslim architect, Mohammad Khan.
Instantly the news is leaked and New York City is thrown into a frenzy over the controversy.  The families of the victims, still grieving for their loved ones, are angry and appalled.  The media does whatever possible to distort the flow of information to fuel the fire.  And political posturing abounds.  In the middle of the firestorm stands "Mo," quiet and confident in his right as an American to submit his design which to him represents hope and healing.  The selection committee looks for a way to take the prize away from him.
The author of The Submission, Amy Waldman, is a former bureau chief for the New York Times.  So she knows of what she writes.  She does a masterful job in taking the reader to the heart of the controversy, seeing the issues from all sides.  The characters are so believable that you will almost feel that this is nonfiction.
Posted by mingh on 09/08/11
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Mattias is a fan of Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin did everything Neil Armstrong did, but second. Mattias is a fan of being second. He says, "The more you put yourself forward, the more stones people can throw at you." When Mattias was born in Norway on July 20th 1969, his Father was torn between watching the moon landing and watching his son being born.
Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion was originally published in Norway in 2005 and has just been translated into English. Not much action happens in the story except in Mattias' mind. After 12 years his longtime girlfriend leaves him, then he loses his steady job as a gardener in a nursery. His friend asks him to run the soundboard for his semi-known band and they are off to obscure places in and around Norway.  The next time we see Mattias, he is on his back in the middle of a muddy road on the Faroe Islands.
The Faroe Islands are the earth's equivalent of the moon in Harstad's book. They are barren rocks with little vegetation other than ground cover, surrounded by the ocean with no easy way home. On the main island, Mattias is finally able to connect with people. He spends time in a psychiatric facility that is more of a half-way house. There aren't many rules because you can't run far away.  It takes Mattias time to realize that he wants to return to his Earth, but first he must travel many different places to find his way home.
This poignant and funny story talks about what it means to be lonely. It is filled with pop culture references, from Dr. Phil (who knew he was shown in Norway), to the four chapters being album titles from the 90's musical group The Cardigans. A wonderful story about a young man who needs to go the ends of the earth to find his way home. 
Posted by cclapper on 09/07/11
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Sweden -- December, 1956:  On the sagging, snow-laden roof of a rotting barn, a young boy on the verge of adolescence and his uncle begin to understand a bit about each other.  A Commissioner in Uppsala, Sweden, leaves a meeting- and vanishes.  A fleeting connection in a restaurant in teeming Bangalore, India... and one person flees before a word is said.  In a botanic garden a laborer talks with his friend.  Dramatic death as an elderly man is struck down viciously.   Nothing connects, nothing makes sense.
Kjell Eriksson tangles these events in a tale spanning lives and remote locales.  In Sweden, Mr. Eriksson is already a bestselling author; Henning Mankell believes "Kjell Eriksson's novels are among the very best."
Now... Mr. Eriksson is Swedish- as was Steig Larsson, the creator of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  But you won't confuse the two.  Steig Larsson conflates volatile personalities in explosive situations: magnesium in a water bath.  Mr. Eriksson weaves together quiet characters (in quiet desperation) and lets them spin quietly into complex alignments.  This story strikes closer to Per Petterson's Norwegian Out Stealing Horses.
The New York Times Book Review believes "...Ebba Segerberg's translation of Eriksson's austere prose beautifully captures the spiritual chill of this desolate landscape."
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/06/11
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Not certain if Krueger has any native American Indian blood running through his family tree, but his Cork O'Connor novels surely show their reverence to that culture.  Reading this series is a spiritual experience.   It is as if Kitchimanidoo is turning the pages.
Kitchimanidoo, as called by the Ojibwe tribe, is the god of heaven and earth .  His hand reaches out and touches Cork O'Connor and his daughter, Jenny, while they are on a boating adventure near the Canadian border of Minnesota.  Caught in a small craft by a huge storm, the two must take shelter on a deserted island.
The island has an old trapper's cabin where they find a tortured, dead girl.  She took to her death the secret of where she hid her deformed baby.  Jenny finds the infant boy hidden in the brush in a wicker basket and her maternal instincts take hold.  From the moment the baby and Jenny look into each other's eyes, a bond is created that will withstand many a test. 
In this 12th book in the mystery series by Krueger, bonding is one of the main themes.   Whether it be between husband and wife, mentor and student, brother and sister, father and daughter, it is the life force that connects loved ones that conquers all.  The O'Connors are running for their lives and that of the newly born babe.  Some demon is hell-bent on erasing all evidence of its brutal crimes.  The O'Connor clan is just a minor speed bump.
Set in the remote North, this mystery is as engaging as the elements its characters must overcome.  Krueger supposedly was said to have wanted to end this series with his previous book, Vermilion Drift, but was talked out of it by his publisher.  It is the more fitting ninoododadiwin or "path of harmony" that was chosen.
Posted by jfreier on 09/06/11
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Alice Humphrey is the daughter of a famous Hollywood director but is struggling to make it on her own in the high stakes world of Art in New York. Alice is out of work again when she meets Drew Campbell, a handsome and mysterious Art rep who offers her the dream job of running her own Art gallery. The offer comes with the knowledge of an anonymous owner who only asks that her first showing is of an unknown and controversial artist . The opening is big hit but when Alice returns to the gallery the next day everything is gone except the dead body of Drew Campbell, Alice is the only link to to the unknown murder victim and is thrown into world of deception and conspiracy. This book is a hip, fast paced journey that will keep you guessing until the end.
Posted by mingh on 09/01/11
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Annie and Buster Fang are the children of notorious performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang. Caleb and Camille like to create small public performance art that can sometimes lead to arrests and hopefully, a mention in a local newspaper. At the beginning of the book every other chapter is a recounting of an artistic piece. Annie accusing her mother (who she pretends is a stranger) of stuffing her coat with jelly beans. As their mother then opens her coat and the jelly beans fall out, Buster enjoins all the kids to stuff their mouths with jelly beans causing a small melee in the shop. Meanwhile their father is outside of the shop filming with a hidden camera. Even if there is no mention of the event, the senior Fangs like to think about the stories all of the people at the shop will talk about with their families. Many times it is art for art's sake.
Both Annie and Buster can't wait to leave home as they grow older. They tire of the performances. Annie goes to Los Angeles to become an actor, and Buster writes stories and novels. But events in their lives force both of them to come back home to live. Buster gets into a fight and has to recuperate at their parents house. While Annie, becomes tabloid fodder and needs to disappear for a while since no one will hire her. Their parents are thrilled as the old performance art gang is back together and they can have the performance pieces of their lives.
Part of the problem for Annie and Buster is that any choice they make is perceived as performance art because of their parents. This dismays Annie because she realizes that everything she does will be perceived through this filter of art. All of her good and bad decisions will be art.  One of the comments Buster makes near the end is that their parents prepared them for bad choices because all of the art that their parents were creating was people making bad choices. And therefore, their parents gave them a gift in not fearing bad choices. Annie is not so sure.
This novel really makes you think about what is art? Can a life be art? Are all lives performance pieces? Is art the act of creating the piece? Or is everyone who has to respond a part of it, and are they also artists? This novel has some very funny moments in it as Annie and Buster try to escape their upbringing. But as Buster points out, they were also given some very important skills for navigating through life. A very readable book.
Art, Fiction, humor
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