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Staff PicksThe David A. Howe Library staff invites you to try one of their favorite books.

Each one is marked with this sticker on the spine or shelved in our special display by the main desk.


Click any book jacket below to link to the catalog with more reviews and information.


Search STARCat to find these titles, get additional reviews, and even read excerpts from these great books. If a book isn't on the shelf, you can place a hold and we'll contact you when it's ready for you to pick up.
Nic Gunning picked these books:

The Testament by John GrishamThe Testament
by John Grisham
The Testament will always stand out as one of my favorite Grisham novel. I read most of it over someone's shoulder on a long trip. It was so engrossing that I just couldn’t look away! It still falls within the legal fiction category, but takes a much different path than most.

Time and Again by Jack FinneyTime and Again
by Jack Finney
Jack Finney is my absolute favorite author. There are so many levels to his stories. I love his tone and find his whole approach really unique. Time & Again was the first Finney I read and it is one of his best. Some may be put off by the level of detail, but I felt like it really gave you a sense of the world Si Morley was in. The mysteries are tight and clever, the characters are fresh and relatable... I loved this book from start to finish.

Death In Paradise by Robert B. ParkerDeath in Paradise
by Robert B. Parker
Another strong entry in the Jesse Stone series. I always look forward to seeing where Parker will take his characters. There is something very enthralling about these books. Jesse is such a flawed, yet heroic character.

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Ann Giddings picked these books:

One Thousand White Women by Jim FergusOne Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus
An Indian request in 1854 for 1,000 white brides to ensure peace is secretly approved by the U.S. government in this alternate-history novel. Their journey west is described by May Dodd, a high-society woman released from an asylum where she was incarcerated by her family for an affair. He writes with insight and sensitivity about the political and religious issues of the time, many of which are still relevant today.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara KingsolverProdigal Summer
by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in the mountains and farms of Southern Appalachia, Kingsolver weaves three stories of love and loss in a glorious celebration of nature. Kingsolver uses the predicaments of her Appalachian characters to dispense ecological insights, praise the old ways of living, and glory in the beauty of nature. She reflects the difficult lives of people struggling on the hard edge of poverty while engaged in the search for dignity and human connection.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanThe Light Between Oceans
by M.L. Stedman
After World War I, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as lighthouse keeper on isolated Janus Rock, off the coast of Australia, where the supply boat comes only four times a year. His spunky wife, Isabel, suffers two miscarriages and a still birth in three years, so it's no surprise that when a boat washes up carrying a dead man and a live baby, Isabel persuades Tom not to report the incident and takes the baby as hers.
Beautifully written and heartwrenching.

City of Hope by Kate KerriganCity of Hope
By Kate Kerrigan

When her beloved husband suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York, where she worked in the 1920s. She hopes that the city will distract her from her anguish, but the Great Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable. Ellie pours her passion and energy into running a refuge for the homeless until, one day, someone Ellie never thought she'd see again steps through her door.
A very touching story with a bit of Irish and American history.

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Amanda Smith picked these books:

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George SpeareThe Bronze Bow
by Elizabeth George Speare
Daniel is a man on a mission: to free the Jewish people from the oppression of the Romans. As he and other rebels gather strength in the hopes of overthrowing their oppressors, Daniel begins to question the methods used and grapples with what freedom truly is. This Newbery Award book is a quick read but addresses issues that are still prevalent in today’s world.

Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie GriffithsSimply Beautiful Photographs
by: Annie Griffiths

I have never outgrown the enjoyment of flipping through a picture book…honestly who has? This book is a compilation of some of National Geographic’s finest work from all over the world. Focusing on different aspects of photography and incorporating the challenges that a photographer faces, this book gives the reader insight and greater appreciation for this collection. An enjoyable read for anyone who is a fan of photography.

The Matchbox Diary by Paul FleischmanThe Matchbox Diary
by Paul Fleischman

How do you keep a diary if you can’t read or write? One man has cleverly collected small mementos throughout his life and kept them safe in matchboxes for years as a way of preserving his history. When his great-granddaughter comes to visit he shares his diary with her. As each matchbox is opened the great-granddaughter holds a small piece of history in her hands as the story unfolds. Through everyday ordinary items these two generations connect. When the visit comes to an end a tradition is passed along.

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Niki Gordon picked these books:

A Storm of Swords ny George R.R. MartinA Storm of Swords
by George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series continues to exceed my expectations with each new installment. He’s done a great job of keeping it interesting with new twists and turns that keep me wanting more. SPOILER ALERT: Just don’t get too attached to the characters, because everyone is fair game in this epic fantasy series!

Neverwhere by Neil GaimanNeverwhere
by Neil Gaiman (e-book)
I have yet to read a book by Neil Gaiman that I didn’t like. I think Neverwhere is my favorite so far. It is unique and interesting in every way, from its unusual characters to its shadowy underworld, “London Below.” This is an engaging e-book that moves along at a good pace.

Forks Over Knives by Dr. Caldwell EsselstynForks Over Knives
by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (e-book)
If you want to improve your health, fight disease, and live longer, then read this e-book. This e-book will open your eyes to all the ways the Western diet has negatively affected our bodies and our health. Eating a whole foods, plant based diet will not only make you healthier, but can even reverse disease. There is also a documentary, of the same name, that makes a great companion. Don’t forget to try the recipes in the e-book though. I’m looking forward to trying out the layered tex-mex lasagna!

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Liz Buchholz picked these books:

The Good Lord Bird by James McBrideThe Good Lord Bird (Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction)
By James McBride
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.
Over the ensuing months, Henry conceals his true identity in order to stay alive and eventually finds himself at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry.
An imaginative tale of history, adventure and survival.

Stalin's Barber: A Novel by Paul M. LevittStalin’s Barber: A Novel
By Paul M. Levitt
Avraham Bahar leaves debt-ridden and depressed Albania to seek a better life in, ironically, Stalinist Russia. A professional barber, he curries favor with the Communist regime, ultimately being invited to become Stalin’s personal barber at the Kremlin. In the intrigue that follows, Avraham is not only barber to Stalin but also to the many Stalin look-alikes that the paranoid dictator circulates to thwart possible assassination attempts.
Levitt illustrates the darkly humorous experience of life in a totalitarian state, where no one can be trusted and the law is removed from reason.

Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-OlsenKeeper of Lost Causes (Department Q series #1)
Jussi Adler-Olsen
Carl Morck used to be one of Copenhagen’s best homicide detectives. Then a shoot-out destroyed the lives of two fellow officers, and Carl blames himself. A promotion is the last thing he expects. He is to head Department Q, which is a department of one, and is given a stack of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. He wants to put his feet up on the desk and nap but one file keeps nagging at him: a liberal politician vanished five years earlier and is presumed dead. But she isn’t dead – yet.
This book got me started on the series and I’ve enjoyed all of them.

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Ursula Gray picked these books:

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert GalbraithCuckoo’s Calling
by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) has written a novel about crime and social issues. Our unlikely hero, Strike, sets out with his mismatched ‘Temp. Assistant’ to find the truth behind the murder committed in this novel. This has great plot development and was a pleasure to read. As the story line developed, so did our main characters.
Galbraith/Rowling ‘s next adventure, The Silkworm will be released in the Spring 2014 which I am looking forward to reading.

Identical by Scott TurowIdentical
by Scott Turow
Identical is the story of twins and the event that changed their lives forever. Turow has done an excellent job of combining different points of view and leading readers through many twists and turns until his end result is found. There is a political undertone in this novel and the question of justice is brought up. It also centers on how money and greed play a part in the election system today. Well written and a ‘can’t put down’ novel. Turow at his best.

Sycamore Row by John GrishamSycamore Row
by John Grisham
In Sycamore Row, Grisham has returned to the scene of his first major novel, A Time to Kill, and presents the reader with a sequel of sorts. Although the original story line does not continue, the main characters are the same.
The year is 1988 and racial tensions still abound. When a black servant becomes the beneficiary to a million dollar estate, all ‘hell’ breaks loose. This is a well-constructed legal story that contains humor, a wise cracking judge and a very satisfying ending. This is one of Grisham’s best novels so far.

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Allison Midgley picked these books:

Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De BereineresCorelli's Mandolin
By Louis De Bereineres

This is a story of World War II. It's the story of a man courting a woman. It's also a magical tale told in rich, delightful prose that sweeps up the reader and carries her along through tragic moments, humorous episodes, and an impossible conclusion.

The Bean Trees by Barbara KingsolverThe Bean Trees
by Barbara Kingsolver
The Bean Trees is one of my favorite books of all time. The language is direct, uncomplicated and heartfelt, like the main character, Taylor Greer. Taylor grows up in Kentucky, poor and ready to leave as soon as she's old enough. Determined to head west unattached and on her own, she soon finds herself taking in a young Cherokee girl. The further she drives, the more she learns about the importance of connections to other people and the value of reaching out.

The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William KlaberThe Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell
by William Klaber
It is the 1840's in the Catskills. Abandoned by her husband, Lucy Ann returns to her parents' farm with her infant daughter, to find her father in decline and her mother hardened against her for marrying a man of whom they didn't approve. Lucy Ann decides to leave her daughter in her parents' safe care while she goes to make a life and enough money for them both - and she increases her chances for success by impersonating a man. Based on the real life Lucy Ann Lobdell, the story travels through Pennsylvania, Minnesota and back to New York, and explores the limitations of being an 19th century woman, and the struggles of anyone who doesn't conform to usual social roles.

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Amanda Smith picked these books:

A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel by Annie GriffithsA Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel
by Annie Griffiths
It takes a lot to be a world traveling professional photographer…you have to be sociable (knowing the culture you’re in is a must), you have to be clever (if the culture you are in doesn’t allow a woman photographer to be present at certain events what do you do?) and you have to be a master multi-tasker (globetrotting for a living can be difficult enough on your own, but add in trying to have a personal life…well that’s when things get interesting). Who in their right mind would do this? Well Annie Griffiths would! As a National Geographic photographer, Annie travels the world giving the rest of us insight into the lives of others through black and white, sepia, and color pictures. Who says picture books aren’t for adults? Dive in and learn what life is like behind the lens of a camera.

Tell My Sons by Lt. Col. Mark WeberTell My Sons
by Lt. Col. Mark Weber
This heart-wrenching yet inspirational story is a father’s legacy to his children. Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, and knowing that he was not likely to survive, Mark Weber chose to leave behind something of himself for his children: his life story. The author pulls from all parts of his life to give his sons advice and help them learn how to deal with difficulties in life when he can’t be there to guide them. A heartfelt memoir that is full of life lessons and leaves one asking: what kind of legacy will I leave?

Blood Red Road by Moira YoungBlood Red Road
by Moira Young
Saba has grown up struggling to survive the desert wasteland she calls home and her dysfunctional family. But life truly begins when her twin brother is kidnapped. She begins a search that leads her to lands unknown and an adventure that is bigger than the search for her brother. This dystopian novel is full of action and plot twists but what really draws you in is the character development of the leading lady Saba. She starts off as a self-centered, tough-as-nails, don’t-need-help kind of girl and ends up…well, you’ll have to read it to see how she changes.

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Ursula Gray picked these books.

The Expats by Chris PavoneThe Expats
by Chris Pavone
Chosen as the best new novel by the Mystery Writers Assoc. in 2012, I found this novel full of twists, turns and surprising events. Beginning with page one until the end, the reader is kept in the dark and guessing as to what would happen next.
Kate Moore, the main character, and her husband move to Luxembourg so he can take a lucrative position. While she leaves her 'double life' in America, she begins to find everyone around her has a 'double life' also, including her husband. While trying to get to the bottom of everything, she begins discovering secret offices, shell corporations, a hidden farm house, fake bank accounts and hidden weapons. As Kate begins to uncover the mysteries around her, she finds her life and that of her family in danger. This novel concludes with the uncovering of a major con that has taken years to create. If you are a fan of spy thriller novels, you should enjoy this riveting read.

The Dinner by Herman KochThe Dinner
by Herman Koch
This novel begins with two couples meeting in Amsterdam for a fashionable dinner. Each couple had a fifteen year old son and the evening begins quite amicably although each couple has some terrible things that need to be addressed. As the evening progresses, around dessert time, the conversation turns to the horrific act each boy has had a part in. The friendships of these couples are tested and events reach a very climactic point as each parent tries to protect their son from the consequences that face him. A well written dark and satirical novel that leaves the reader unsettled and asking themselves what they'd have done in a similar situation. A different type of book than I usually read, I found this very interesting.

Nightwoods by Charles FrazierNightwoods
by Charles Frazier
In Charles Frazier's third novel, we meet Luce who had become the caretaker of a rustic lodge in NC, and who is uncertain of her future there. To add to her problems, her sister is murdered and she has become the guardian of her twin niece and nephew. These children are mute and out of control due to their mother's untimely death at the hands of their step father. Although Luce values a solitary life and enjoys her freedom, she does her best to make a home for her new family. While she is teaching them about nature and new values, her life is also beginning to change as well. When news reaches them about the release from prison of the murderer, this novel takes on a new feel. It becomes a suspense thriller. As usual, Charles Frazier's description of the area, characters and events matches his previous novels and will keep you involved until the end. A good summer read.

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Liz Buchholz picked these books:

The Abduction by Mark GiminezThe Abduction
by Mark Giminez (e-book edition)
Ben Brice is a decorated Vietnam veteran who lives alone in the New Mexico wilderness while drinking himself to death as he battles his memories of war. The one light in his life is his granddaughter, Gracie, who lives miles away in Texas with his estranged son, John, an internet genius-turned-billionaire. While at her soccer game, John loses track of Gracie as he is also conducting business on his cell phone. She has been abducted. And so begins a furious race against time to save Gracie from unknown kidnappers. Dark family secrets emerge as John and Ben must work together to find her. Even though the clues indicate a pedophile, Ben’s experience tells him otherwise. There are many twists and turns and the reader discovers that behind the kidnapping is an extraordinary government plot. This will hold your interest!

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris BohjalianThe Sandcastle Girls
by Chris Bohjalian (e-book edition)
How many of us are aware of the Armenian genocide that took place during the First World War? I certainly wasn’t and I don’t remember it ever being taught in any of my History classes. The granddaughter of an Armenian and a Bostonian is doing genealogical research and discovers that her grandmother took a guilty secret to her grave. Flash back to 1915 when young Elizabeth has journeyed to the Syrian city of Aleppo with her father and an American relief group to deliver food and supplies to the survivors of the Armenian massacre. The Turks are using Aleppo as a depot for the straggling remnants of Armenian women who have been force-marched through the desert. While there she meets Armen, an engineer who has come in search of his wife. There is a love story intertwined with the atrocities of war. This is gruesome and unforgettable at the same time.

Blue Asylum by Kathy HepinstallBlue Asylum
by Kathy Hepinstall (e-book edition)
During the Civil War era it was not uncommon for wealthy men to have their wives committed to insane asylums if they were not compliant with their husband’s wishes or ways of thinking. Iris falls in love with Robert Dunleavy, a plantation owner, and marries him despite her father’s misgivings. Upon arrival at Dunleavy’s home, she soon discovers that she cannot tolerate the way that the slaves are treated and becomes more and more abolitionist in her thinking. After embarrassing Robert, Iris is committed to Sanibel Asylum so that she can be reformed into a proper, submissive wife. Dr. Cowell is the therapist trying to change Iris’s thoughts, but despairs of ever doing so. He is the consummate medical professional but also develops feelings for her. His son, Wendell, is troubled by memories of a past patient and feels drawn to help Iris. She also meets a Confederate soldier who is haunted by his nightmares of war. He may be beyond help, but Iris feels that she can save him. You will be drawn into the story.

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Ann Giddings picked these books:

What Teachers Make by Taylor MaliWhat Teachers Make: In praise of the Greatest Job In the World
by Taylor Mali
If you're an educator or someone with a love of teachers or teaching, you'll find this book inspirational. Taylor Mali offers his wonderful tips and stories from his experience as a teacher. As a former middle-school teacher and teacher’s advocate, he shares the joy of teaching and why our society needs good teachers and educators more than ever. It's a book that will be treasured and shared by every teacher in America - and everyone who's ever loved or learned from one.

Far From the Tree by Andrew SolomanFar from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search For Identity
by Andrew Soloman
How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we are? How do parents deal with raising a child who isn't what they expected him or her to be? What if the child is autistic? Deaf? Has Down Syndrome? Or has dwarfism? And how much does nurture have to do with the people our children become? Or is it more due to nature, or genetics that are unchangeable? If you are a parent, or aspire to be one, or work with children, I recommend this book to you. Each of these stories reveals the unconditional love of parents for their children and the desire for all humans to be valued as individuals.

Lincoln's Battle With God by Stephen MansfieldLincoln’s Battle with God: A President’s Struggle With Faith and What it Meant for America
by Stephen Mansfield

This is another biography that I enjoyed. It includes many first-hand accounts, letters, and speeches, showing Lincoln as a man who wrestled with his faith rather than blindly accepting the
religious mores of his time. The author gets into the details of Lincoln’s spiritual journey. Lincoln was a skeptic during his youth, but shows his growing faith as he matures. He ends with President Lincoln, the leader who deeply pondered God’s purpose for the Civil War, and then communicated his conclusions in his second Inaugural Address. If you’ve seen the newest movie on Lincoln, you will surely find this a wonderful book.

Dearie by Bob SpitzDearie: the Remarkable Life of Julia Child
by Bob Spitz

Have you seen the movie Julia and Julia? Julia Child had a fascinating life even before she became a familiar face on TV. At the outbreak of World War II, she volunteered for government service and was shipped overseas as a member of the OSS, America’s spy agency that later became the CIA. She worked in its Registry and was responsible for the location and movements of every U.S. spy operating in the Southeast Asia Theater. She was a big person (over 6'3") with a big personality that couldn't be contained in the expected role of "the little woman." I found it very moving when she finally found true love, although she was still adrift about what her life purpose would be. A lunch in France changed everything. It was a powerful moment when she hit on her true calling at the age of forty. So, if you want to read and learn about Julia Child, pull up a chair and Bon Appetit!

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Jackie Angel picked these books.

Bloodfever by Karen MoningBloodfever
by Karen Moning
This one is definitely a guilty pleasure. Set in Ireland, a young girl is out for revenge of the death of her sister. But she finds herself the world of dark powers, supernatural beings & unexpected events. You’ll have to stretch your imagination for this urban fantasy but you’ll be glad you did. Plus Ms. Moning leaves you waiting for more with her cliffhanger ending and her next installments of Faefever and Dreamfever.

You Gotta Have Balls by Lily BrettYou Gotta Have Balls
by Lily Brett
Set in NYC, this is the story of Ruth and her aging father Edek, and how Ruth discovers who her father really is for the first time in her life. Written in a dry witty tone, Ruth journeys through a new season of her life. While trying to be her father’s caretaker she discovers he’s still got a lot of living left to do. So she must learn to let go a bit for him to find his own happiness. Although the journey has its road bumps and potholes, both Ruth and Edek make it thru and end up surprising themselves as much as each other. This book is more about the adventures of relationships than anything else.

Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn MitchardCage of Stars
by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Poignant, heartfelt, and honest are just a few words to describe this can’t-put-down book. Although the story has much sadness, there is also much redemption as the heroine’s heart and soul die and then become reborn again. The characters are so well written you are certain to hold them dear to your heart until the last page.

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Melody Fanton picked these books:

Short Nights of the Show Catcher by Timothy EganShort Nights of the Shadow Catcher
by Timothy Egan

From the first page, I was immediately drawn to Edward Curtis… charismatic, handsome, self-made photographer and outdoorsman. You’ll recognize the poignant, haunting photographs he took of the continent’s original inhabitants. He knew their history was soon to be extinct if no one could preserve it.
He has been described as “Indiana Jones with a camera” and spent three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty Native American tribes.

I was moved by the accounts of the Indians and their way of life; I was amazed at the motivation and stamina of this pioneer; I was intrigued by the accounts of Roosevelt and Morgan; and I was humbled by the dignity and suffering of the Native Americans. True to his promise, Edward Curtis made the Indians live forever.

Written in Bone by Simon BeckettWritten in Bone
by Simon Beckett

Our bodies continue to hoard our life’s secrets even when consumed by fire. I love forensic anthropology, and this mystery set on a remote Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides is one of the better ones I’ve read. As with any good suspense story, the plot twists and turns and many characters are suspect throughout, although the motive remains unknown till the end. As with any good story, the end will catch you by surprise.

A Thousand Mornings: Poems by Mary OliverA Thousand Mornings: Poems
by Mary Oliver

This compact little book by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver contains 36 poems in a mere 77 pages. They praise and chronicle the wonder of our daily experience while inviting us to ponder the awe of dawn, the wisdom of animals, and the redemption of observation. There were many “aha!” moments when reading these…one to own for your personal library.

Those In Peril by Wilbur SmithThose in Peril
by Wilbur Smith

As one of the very best contemporary writers in my opinion, Wilbur Smith sets this novel smackdab in the 21st century with a tale of wealth, intrigue, danger, and politics. The plot revolves around piracy and kidnapping at sea off the Somalian coast. With a $20 billion ransom demand, and a political climate that prevents intervention, a mother and a security agent are left to their own devices to recover the 19 year old victim. This is storytelling at its very best.

Girl Hunter by Georgia PellegriniGirl Hunter
by Georgia Pellegrini

In Roman mythology, the goddess of the hunt was Diana, ruling the forest and the moon. The hunt was “an extension of our being both humans and animals—our first work and craft, one of our original instincts.” The author left Wall Street to connect with her love of cooking and the world of local, organic, and sustainable food. Her adventures include hunting for squirrel to elk and wild boar. Included are recipes for wild game and, surprisingly, for life and nature. This is an inspiring and very humorous account of our very basic connections to the natural world.

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Eileen Tecza picked these books:

The Night Circus by Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern

A rivalry between two mercurial magicians travels to the next generation.

A circus, Le Cirque des Reves, appears in various locations without advance notice. It is open only at night with amazing experiences seen only in this particular venue. Competing to be the best, young magicians Marco and Celia’s relationship develops into a romance, unknown at the beginning that they are destined to culminate the rivalry between Celia’s father and Marco’s mentor.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham VergheseCutting For Stone
Abraham Verghese

Twin sons born to an Indian nun who dies in childbirth and a British doctor who disappears are raised by doctors in a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Bound by their fascination with medicine and their connection as twins, the boys grow up in Ethiopia on the edge of revolution.

This novel explores the political climate of Ethiopia, a man’s dedication to the practice of medicine, and the power of family.

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Allison Midgley picked these books:

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko OgawaThe Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa

A math genius loses his memory. He can't remember anything after 1975. He can absorb new information and new experiences for 80 minutes at a stretch, then it is erased, and he has to start over. A housekeeper is hired to help. She brings her son, a baseball-crazy 10-year-old boy the Professor grows to adore. Together, they develop a rich, loving relationship that tells a story of poverty and hope in two Japanese families. Ogawa’s rich imagery and spare language bring the story to poignant life.

Swamplandia! by Karen RussellSwamplandia!
by Karen Russell

I recommend this book because of its wonderful descriptions, surreal storyline, and engaging characters, the Bigtree family of the Florida Everglades. Twelve year old Ava Bigtree, the main character, goes on a quest in an effort to bring her family back together and revive their failing amusement park after her mother dies. I thoroughly enjoyed its comic moments and the fairy tale-style narrative, and the story drew me forward, even when - or perhaps because - unexpected tragic events occur.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

I hadn’t read this classic before and was prompted to read it by news about the 50th anniversary of its publication. The story of racial injustice is stunning for its time. The characters are well-developed whether they’re admirable like Atticus Finch, despicable like Mayella Ewell, or curious like tomboy Scout Finch. The vivid scenes - languid summer days, tension-filled courtrooms, mysterious night-time neighborhoods – spark the reader’s imagination. This is indeed a classic worth reading – again and again.

Crazy in Alabama by Mark ChildressCrazy in Alabama
by Mark Childress

I was inspired to read this novel after hearing Childress talk about his reaction to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s an enjoyable and engaging read. The main character flashes back to 1965 and a young boy’s view of civil rights conflicts and desegregation. Just before his Alabama town sees confrontations between police and African-American citizens, the boy’s aunt kills her hubby and ducks the law by moving to Hollywood. As Peejoe, now a successful screenwriter remembers the summer of 1965, he tries to untangle the rather improbable, highly-entertaining travels of his Aunt Lucille, and learns the complexity of both family struggles and larger agendas.

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Amanda Smith picked these books:

Mystic and Rider by Sharon ShinnMystic and Rider
By Sharon Shinn
Set in the mythical land of Gillengaria, Mystic and Rider is a fantastic tale that has it all. With the land on the brink of war, six companions set out to gather information for the king in the hopes of staving off the inevitable. This rag-tag group struggles at first to come together as a team, finding that the very issues that divide them are some of the reasons the country is going to war. As danger draws near, will the group be able to set aside differences and form a cohesive unit? Will war lay waste to the land of Gillengaria? Read and find out. Filled with twists and turns, magic, sword-fighting, and marvelous character development, you won’t be able to put it down and will be looking for the second book in no time.

Paradise General by Dr. Dave HnidaParadise General: Riding the Surge at a Combat Hospital in Iraq
By Dr. Dave Hnida
Though I have read other memoirs and autobiographies of men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the first I have read about a trauma chief. Though perhaps seen as a “behind the scenes” man, Dr. Hnida, along with all the other staff members of the Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, worked no less diligently at his job, than those on the front, to help save the never-ending flow of wounded into the camp. Though equipment was sometimes scarce or malfunctioning, work space was cramped, and temperatures soared I was gripped by the camaraderie of the group. Their willingness to look out for one another’s needs and continual jokes to relieve tension is a testament to hope. They chose hope instead of giving in to despair and tragedy that surely stared them in the face many a night.

The Long Walk by Brian CastnerThe Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life the Follows
By Brian Castner
An intriguing and sobering read about the changes that occur in the life of the author after serving in the US military as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technician in Afghanistan. The author chooses not to adhere to the typical chronological flow of information for his memoir and instead takes the reader back and forth from past to the present and vice versa. This technique serves to depict the contrast between the struggles of war and the everyday life challenges of Americans back home. It more clearly shows the struggle that can occur for some veterans to reintegrate into a culture relatively unaccustomed to the horrors of war.

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Niki Gordon picked these books:

The Snowman by Jo NesboThe Snowman
by Jo Nesbo
Police investigator, Harry Hole, suspects a link between a letter he received and the disappearances of up to a dozen women. These women all went missing on the day of the first snowfall. Then there is also the question of why there’s always a mysterious appearance of a snowman nearby. Is there a connection? This novel is full of twists and turns as the killer breaks his own rules to keep Harry guessing. This is the first mystery novel I’ve read in a long time and it didn’t disappoint. It’s full of suspense and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins
I kept having Patrons come up to me and tell me how great they thought The Hunger Games was. I finally broke down and read it and was so glad that I did. I couldn’t put it down. I don’t normally recommend young adult novels, but this one is different and worth the read.
This book takes place in the future of what was once North America, but is now divided up into districts. The districts were defeated in a civil war by “the Capital.” As a reminder, each district must give up a boy and a girl each year t compete in “The Hunger Games.” In order to save her younger sister from a fight to the death, Katniss Everdeen puts her life on the line and volunteers to participate. I highly recommend this book.

The Wolf Gift by Anne RiceThe Wolf Gift
by Anne Rice
In this book, Anne Rice has returned to writing about familiar supernatural creatures, this time werewolves. It has been many years since I’ve read an Anne Rice novel; however, I really enjoyed this book. Reuben, a young reporter from San Francisco, is in Mendocino County to do a story on an older woman’s magnificent family home. That night, after a violent episode, the woman is dead and Reuben is in the hospital after being attacked and bitten by a beast he couldn’t identify. It is soon after that he experiences the ecstasy and horror of what he calls “the wolf gift.” I liked this book because the werewolf was reinvented to have a superhero-like quality. He feels drawn to fight against evil by attacking people in the midst of committing criminal acts.

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Jackie Angel picked these books.

The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer ChiaveriniThe Runaway Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini
This is a delightful read. Just as enlightening as it is heartwarming. Although the setting begins, ends, and sporadically jumps back to modern day at Elm Creek Manor Quilt Camp, most of the story takes place in the mid 1800’s. Sylvia finds her great grandmother’s journal in the attic and as Sylvia reads it, the story unfolds. She also finds several quilts that have mysterious origins. As usually per Chiaverini, the endearing characters seem real and relatable. You’ll feel like you are hearing your great grandmother tell you the tale of her ancestors herself.

The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer ChiaveriniThe Aloha Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Another great tale of the Elm Creek Quilters, only this time the story takes place in Maui! The story begins rather bleak for Bonnie with her quilt shop closed and her divorce right around the corner. But then her friend Claire invites her to Maui for the winter. (We should all have such a friend!) There she has all kinds of ups & downs all the while learning to quilt Hawaiian style. In addition to the drama, Chiaverini includes Hawaiian history, quilting trivia, and beautiful descriptions of the islands. A nice, light “vacation” read. And it’s travel size too!

The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer ChiaveriniThe New Year’s Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Another homespun tale from Chiaverini. In this one Sylvia has just married Andrew and they set off for their honeymoon in NYC & then travel on to Andrew’s daughter, Amy’s, house. Sylvia parallels the dynamics of Amy’s struggle to accept her father’s marriage to her own struggles with her sister many years ago. Much of Sylvia’s past is revealed in this story. Chiaverini also includes many different New Year’s traditions from other countries and some fun history/trivia about NYC.

Race For the Gold by Thorn BaconRace for the Gold
by Thorn Bacon
This adventurous read is based on the actual events of the infamous horseback ride of Louis Remme in February of 1855 from Sacramento, CA to Portland, OR. Adding to the adventure is a bit of drama between Remme & the various people he meets along his ride. Although the story is not super faced-paced, it will still hold your attention & beg for you to read one more page. Plus it is mixed with interesting tidbits of history and delightful descriptions of the western wilderness.

Fair Game by Patricia BriggsFair Game
by Patricia Briggs
This is the fourth in the urban fantasy Alpha And Omega series. And if you’re like me, as soon as you finish this one you will want to read the rest asap. Briggs skillfully incorporates many dynamics into this story...the classic who-done-it of a mystery, the excitement of an adventure, and the warm-fuzzy of a love story. Plus it has the allure of fantasy elements (werewolves, vampires & elves) but the setting of modern day which makes it all too easy for the reader to get completely absorbed in the storyline. A definite 5 star novel!

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKayMy Hands Came Away Red
by Lisa McKay
Although this claims the genre of “Christian fiction” it is not overtly Christian. It definitely has Christian beliefs presented but in a very subtle way as part of the storyline. That being said, the main focus is on seven teenagers who get thrown into a religious war then, barely escaping with their lives, into the jungles of Indonesia. McKay skillfully shows how young people are able to find goodness in their own hearts at the very moment the ugliness of the world is opened up to them. Even though this book has sadness to it, I would still recommend it. It is not only a good read that you won’t want to put down, but it is a good reminder of how much one person can make a difference.

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Liz Buchholz picked these books.

Once a Spy by Keith ThompsonOnce a Spy
by Keith Thomson
Drummond Clark was once a spy of legendary proportions. Now Alzheimer’s disease has taken its toll and he’s just a confused old man who has wandered off.
When his son, Charlie, a losing gambler, brings him home, there is a huge explosion and the pair barely escape with their lives. After Drummond hot-wires a car and bullets start flying, Charlie discovers that his father is not the boring appliance salesman that he had always known.
The CIA wants to eliminate the problem of top secrets coming out with Mr. Clark’s advancing disease. Father and son flee cross-country to evade assassins and during his lucid moments, Clark Sr. effortlessly kills multiple assailants, shocking Charlie into realizing that he hadn’t really known who his father was at all. The two develop a close relationship as they try to escape with their lives.
This left me very ready to read Twice a Spy.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeSnow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication. Lily and Snow Flower are paired by a matchmaker to be friends even though they have never met, and thus begins their use of nu shu (women’s secret writing) by painting letters on a fan that was sent back and forth
We learn about the painful process of foot binding, women’s inferior status in their homes and many of the proverbs and superstitions that shaped their daily lives, as the girls age from 7 to 80. Interesting to learn about a culture that is so different from our own.

The Amber Room by Steve BerryThe Amber Room
by Steve Berry
Originally in the Catherine Palace in Russia, the Amber Room was a true wonder with wall panels made of amber and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. During World War II, Nazi soldiers made off with the panels and their disappearance remains one of the great mysteries of the war.
Karol Borya is a Russian who was once held in a German POW camp and has just become a United States citizen. When he dies under suspicious circumstances, his daughter, Rachel is left with clues about the location of the Amber Room. Unfortunately, there are other powerful men who are also in pursuit of the treasure and will stop at nothing to gain it. Rachel and her ex-husband, Paul travel to Europe where they find themselves on a collision course with ruthless killers. You will be anxious to see how this plays out.

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Ursula Gray picked these books:

11/23/63 by Steven King11/22/63
by Stephen King

“On 11/22/63 three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died and the world changed forever.”

Asking his GED students to write an essay about what incident changed their lives, Jake Epping, an English teacher, read a heart rending account of how one student's life was changed by the murder of his family by his abusive father. Soon after, Jake is shown a portal to the past. Traveling back to 1958, Jake is determined to reverse the actions of this abusive father. In doing this, Jake finds he can change history and returns to 1963 to try and save President Kennedy from assassination.

This is typical Stephen King writing with much historical background, and many twists and turns. A totally “fun” book to read.

Defending Jacob by William LandayDefending Jacob
by William Landay

What does a parent do when his 14 year old son is accused of murdering a fellow student? This is exactly what has happened in Defending Jacob. Jacob is accused of murder and his Assistant DA father is placed in the position of defending him. Jacob's guilt or innocence is unknown throughout most of this novel. Evidence tampering and dark family secrets surface to keep the reader guessing as to the outcome. With its startling ending, I found Defending Jacob an excellent book with great character studies and plot development.

Fall From Grace by Richard North PattersonFall From Grace
by Richard North Patterson

Because Richard North Patterson is one of my favorite authors, I eagerly await each new publication of his. Fall From Grace was no disappointment.

The death of Adam Blaine's prominent author father from a fall from a cliff brings Adam home to Martha's Vineyard after being estranged from him for over ten years. Upon his arrival he learns his mother, brother and uncle have been disinherited. The shock and disbelief in this cause Adam to begin delving into his family's past to uncover the truth. Did his father really commit suicide or was he murdered?

After uncovering many unknown family truths, the shocking truth is revealed. This is a great edge of the chair read.

The Art of Fielding by Chad HarbackThe Art of Fielding
by Chad Harback

When Henry Skimshander becomes a standout baseball pitcher at a small mid western college, life is good. However, one disastrous off course pitch changes the lives of five people closest to Henry. Although not a huge fan of baseball, this book was well written, (even the baseball game excerpts) and depicted a great understanding of coming of age, family, ambition, friendship and love. A great summer read from a new and upcoming author.Try it, you won't be disappointed.

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Ann Giddings picked these books:

The Soloist by Steve LopezThe Soloist
by Steve Lopez
Main Floor Nonfiction B AY24L
Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times discovers a mysterious violinist on skid row, Nathaniel Ayers. Thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a classical bassist at Julliard until overcome by a mental breakdown. This is a wonderful story of a deeply troubled person who is also a musical genius, and the bond he forms with Lopez, who tries to get him off the streets, reconnects him with his family and actually takes him to Disney Concert Hall where he meets a former Julliard classmate. Very moving.

Great Soul by Joseph LelyveldGreat Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India
by Joseph Lelyveld
New Nonfiction B G151L
I am a fan of Gandhi and this book shows how his mission and philosophy of nonviolent resistance were shaped during two decades as a lawyer in South Africa. In India he was revered as a Mahatma, or “Great Soul” and this follows his heroic efforts for social transformation all the way to his own assassination.
“For men like me, you have to measure them not by the rare moments of greatness in their lives, but by the amount of dust they collect on their feet in the course of life’s journey.” (1947)
Mohandas Gandhi

The Life of Meaning by Bob AbernethyThe Life of Meaning: Reflections on Faith, Doubt, and Repairing the World
by Bob Abernathy and William Bole
Main Floor Nonfiction 204 ABE
Who doesn’t want to have a meaningful life? And how do we accomplish that? 59 extraordinary contributors search for meaning in their own personal lives, their experience of God and for some, the struggle to reconcile faith and doubt. They include Jimmy Carter, the Dalai Lama, and retired South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Desmond Tutu, who speaks about his sense of being in God’s presence, which he likened to sitting near a warm stove on a cold morning.
In this book you will find lives well lived and a fascinating journey. Very inspiring.

The Power of Habit by Charles DuhiggThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg
New Nonfiction 153 DUH
This is a great book about the power of habit and what we can do to change our habits in business, life and society. The author says that “you have the freedom and responsibility” to remake your habits. He relates stories of how “the most addicted alcoholics can become sober, the most dysfunctional companies can transform themselves, and a high school dropout can become a successful manager.”
It’s an impressive book.

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra FullerCocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
by Alexandra Fuller
New Nonfiction B F959FU
This is a memoir of East Africa after the collapse of British rule there. Alexandra’s mother spent most of her life living in Africa and was a woman with a zest for life and adventure. If you are interested in Africa, I would recommend this book. There is a lot of wonderful writing about Kenya, Zambia and Rhodesia during the 50's and 60’s, and this family had a very interesting life.

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Allison Midgley picked these books:

The Sunny Side by A. A. MilneThe Sunny Side: Short Stories & Poems For Proper Grownups
by A. A. Milne
Stories for adults by the familiar author of Winnie the Pooh. This very British book of short stories is filled with wry humor. The everyday characters do puzzling things: from the young man who writes himself into being the mate he wants to be for the woman he loves to the group of friends “on holiday” who make a memorable occasion by lending a friend money that they know he’ll lose while gambling, Milne’s characters are both puzzling and puzzled. A good book if you want something you can read in short spurts.

An Uncommn ReaderAn Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett
What do you do when the queen of England steps into the bookmobile and asks about your reading choices? When Norman, who works in the castle kitchen, answers the question, it leads him into an extraordinary relationship with a 20th century monarch (a fictitious Queen Elizabeth II). What starts off with discussions of books leads to realizations for both people. The queen discovers the pleasures of reading and the complexities of “the common man.” Norman comes to see that the queen is indeed an uncommon reader: royal, unusual, and wonderfully curious and caring about life and the lives of her countrymen. This thoughtful and witty novella is an enjoyable and quick weekend read.

12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn by James Proimos12 Things To Do Before You Crash and Burn
by James Proimos
Juvenile Main Floor YA P
In this brief and humorous young adult novel, sixteen year old Hercules Martino’s father (popular as a self-help author and speaker – not so popular with Hercules) has just passed away. Hercules is sent to spend the last two weeks of the summer in Baltimore at his uncle’s house. When he arrives, his uncle gives him a list of twelve tasks to accomplish. They range from “choose a mission” to “clean out the garage” to “go on seven job interviews.” Some tasks are daunting, but Hercules forges ahead (on one of his seven job interviews, he applies at a coffee shop - under the name Juan Valdez). By the time the tasks are complete and he’s on his way home, Hercules has learned startling information about his family and valuable lessons about himself and growing up.

Trading In Danger by Elizabeth MoonTrading in Danger
by Elizabeth Moon
Here’s a fun read that’s a bit off my beaten path: a space story with a strong female lead, Kylara Vatta, daughter of a wealthy interstellar merchant family, expelled military school cadet, and captain of an aging space cargo vessel. This book certainly isn’t heavy on the “science” part of sci-fi, and it doesn’t have shocking plot twists, but the humorous notes and Ky’s adventures kept me turning the pages. As she pilots her ship through space, facing interplanetary colonial wars, mercenaries, and her own crew’s bias against her youth, Ky is almost a caricature of honor, bravery, and integrity who, the reader knows, will succeed in the end.

The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey WallaceThe Blind Contessa’s New Machine
by Carey Wallace
A wonderful and odd bit of a first novel, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine is 21st century magical realism. Its lush and elegant descriptions are the heart of the simple story line: a young Italian woman of the late 19th century named Carolina goes blind. She finds that she can conjure sight in her dreams. Her parents and fiancé will not admit her condition, but her friend Turri, a scientist and inventor, faces her loss of sight with her. His understanding, creativity, and a “writing machine” lead to a passionate affair that changes their lives. Surprisingly but fittingly, the novel is based on the true story behind the invention of the typewriter.

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Melody Fanton picked these books.

Angel Time by Anne RiceAngel Time
by Ann Rice

First in her Songs of the Seraphim Series, Angel Time is an “about-face” from Ms. Rice’s vampire novels. It is narrated by an unlikely “hero,” Toby O’Dare, a hired assassin. Toby is confronted by the angel Malchiah as he is on his way to execute another killing. Malchiah offers him a path to redemption that will take him back to 13th century England and the role of protector of a persecuted Jewish family.

Ms. Rice has extensively researched the subject of angels and her depiction is mesmerizing. The story weaves back and forth in time, connected by the notion of redemption for even the most sinful among us. This is a great mystical thriller contained in a very readable 268 pages.

West of Here by Jonathan EvisonWest of Here
by Jonathan Evison

Reminiscent of the great American epics of Edna Ferber or Larry McMurtry, West of Here spans 100 years in the lives of a family in the fictional town of Port Bonita on Washington State’s coastline.

This novel makes a strong case for the connectedness/consequences of people’s lives and actions over time. Moving between 1890 and 2006, Evision shows the effects of nature, man, and place on one another and the environment. Beautifully written.

The Singing of the Dead by Dana StabenowThe Singing of the Dead
by Dana Stabanow

This is the first book I’ve read by the author but the title is actually the 11th installment in the Kate Shugak Series. If you’re a fan of Sue Grafton, Kate will remind you of Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone.

PI Kate is hired as a bodyguard for Alaska State Senatorial candidate Anne Gordaoff. As staffers and supporters start turning up murdered, Kate’s investigation leads to an unlikely connection to an 85 year old prostitute and a century old scandal.

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonShadow of the Wind
by Carlos Riuz Zafon

Translated fairly recently into English, this book has sold in more than 20 countries. It is a book about a book. It begins when a young boy is allowed to choose a rare book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He becomes the caretaker of it and over time becomes fascinated with the book and its obscure author. He soon realizes that there are those who are seeking to destroy all copies and will go to any length to do so. Part thriller, part romance, part fantasy, this has it all.

Mexican Hat by Michael McGarrity
Mexican Hat
by Michael McGarrity

As in books by another favorite author, Craig Johnson, the contemporary western setting in this story could be considered one of the characters as well as the backdrop.

A disabled (from previous novel Tularosa) Sante Fe policeman, Kevin Kerney, has found work as a park ranger in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness Park. Murders of both man and beast happen in the park that lead Kerney’s investigation to personal and professional conflicts.

This is an entertaining read that Hillerman (and Johnson) fans will enjoy.

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Try one of these books that Eileen Tecza picked!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa SeeShanghai Girls
by Lisa See

The author, Lisa See, takes the reader on a journey of a well-to-do Chinese family that is torn apart because of financial mismanagement and political change in the 1930s. The day-to-day details of life in Shanghai are fascinating and centers on two sisters, Pearl and May, whose father must sell them as wives to two California brothers. The process of leaving China and relocating in Los Angeles tests the sisters’ strength and family bonds. See spotlights the struggles of being Chinese-American and also develops her characters as strong women as they adapt to life in America.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa SeeDreams of Joy
by Lisa See

Continuing the story of Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, the daughter, Joy, travels to China to join the Chinese Revolution and find her birth father. Joy joins a rural commune as her mother, Pearl, returns to China to search for her. Again, the day-to-day details of life in the intolerant Chinese Communist culture are rich and the character development totally envelops the reader in the story of this family.

State of Wonder by Ann PatchettState of Wonder
by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett, known for her complex characters and situations, explores ethical issues as she writes of a pharmaceutical researcher sent to the Amazon to search for a field team. The researcher, Marina Singh, faces physical hardships in South America and emotional remembrances of her Indian father who she periodically visited as a child. She is reunited with a former medical teacher and lives with the natives of the Amazon jungle who hold the secret that the pharmaceutical company seeks. This is an adventure story as well as a psychological drama with mystical shades.

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Lois Bulger picked these books:

Wonderstruck by Brian SelznickWonderstruck
by Brian Selznick
I have been waiting for Mr. Selznick to write another book in the same trailblazing form as his debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the Caldecott Award. This he has accomplished by sailing again into unchartered territory combining his gift as both artist and author. The two main characters Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother’s room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. These two independent stories are unique in that they are set fifty years apart; Ben’s told in words and Rose’s in pictures. As the separate stories unfold they start to intertwine, until they blend into a unified revelation. There are over 460 pages of original artwork, don’t miss this one!

The Maze Runner by James DashnerMaze Runner Trilogy
by James Dashner
I like to read trilogies after the author has completed all of them so that I can read all the books in order and not have to wait to see what happens! Thus I waited to recommend the three published books which include The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure. What would it be like to wake up in an elevator descending down for almost half an hour? You have no memory of your name, home, parents, or how you got there. Upon arrival at the bottom the door opens to a large expanse enclosed by stone walls. You are greeted by kids who have no idea how they got there either or why. One boy is delivered every 30 days. Thomas and the Gladers, as they are known, create a self-sufficient society with only one hope of escaping - solve the puzzle of the Maze. Daily the doors to the Maze open and daily the “runners” try to solve the mystery and report back to the others. One basic rule, never get caught in the Maze after dark when the big stone doors close shut. If you liked The Hunger Games trilogy you’ll like this series as well

Under the Dome by Stephen KingUnder the Dome
by Stephen King
The master wordsmith has done it again. What would life be in your tranquil town when everyone wakes up one morning only to eventually discover an invisible “force field” has surrounded the town? Birds and airplanes crash into the “dome,” food supplies dwindle, the air is impure with smoke and odors, parents and children are separated by the divide, the temperature is rising inside, energy supplies are dwindling, people are desperate and who is going to save the day? Some people are depending on the local town council to keep order but selectman Big Jim Rennie has his own ideas of who should be in charge and what should be done. This is another page-turner for long winter nights.

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Brian Hildreth picked these books:

Generation Freedom by Bruce FeilerGeneration Freedom: The Middle East Uprisings and the Remaking of the Modern World
by Bruce Feiler
323.044 FEI
New York Times Bestselling Author Bruce Feiler delivers an up close and personal account of the recent social uprising in Egypt. This book is an abstract of the many internal and external forces surrounding the protests in Cairo, which ultimately lead to total political transformation. Anyone looking for a complete and thorough analysis of this historic revolution might be disappointed, but Feiler does an amazing job of conducting one-on-one interviews with key leaders directly involved in the movement. It is compelling to see how much people are willing to sacrifice for the basic human right of freedom. With each interview, Feiler delivers a clear understanding of the desire for democracy in Middle Eastern nations, and the distance people will travel to obtain it. This book will definitely encourage readers to seek additional sources on topic.

The Council of Dads by Bruce FeilerThe Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness and the Men Who Could Be Me
by Bruce Feiler 362.19699 FEI
This second book by Bruce Feiler is definitely his best piece of work. After being diagnosed with a rare cancerous leg tumor, Feiler undergoes a year of painful treatment to eradicate his life-threatening disease. The reason why this book is so good is because Feiler is able to remove his shield as a best-selling author, and deliver a raw, personal and emotional story of human triumph. Feiler discusses the complexities of his disease, and the need to continue balancing a career, marriage and parenting. Throughout the story, Feiler describes his deep love for family and friends, especially his wife and two daughters. His ability to prioritize the “important stuff” in life is eye-opening, and the message he sends to readers is relevant, “Parenting is just plain difficult, but parenting with a life-threatening disease is borderline impossible.” This true story will make any parent appreciate their blessings, and each day they are given with their child.

The Social Animal by David BrooksThe Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Human Achievement
by David Brooks 305.513 BRO
This book written by New York Times Bestselling Author David Brooks gives us the insight and ability to look beyond our cultures and selves to understand the real reason why we make certain decisions. Through an abundance of psychological and social research, Brooks helps readers understand the paths we have chosen, as well the paths of others. Brooks discusses the lives of two fictional characters from their birth to their death, and makes us think about where they have come from, why they have come together, and the challenges they must face together. Ultimately, his story makes us believe that the life we create for ourselves is done so subconsciously through the experiences we have endured. Brooks has a great ability to create a story and characters that encourage compassion and sympathy. Regardless if you agree with Brooks’ theory or ideas, it is a read that will stimulate much interest and further inquiry.

Through My Eyes by Tim TebowThrough My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey
by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
B T224T
BCS College Football Champion and starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow explains in detail the life and moments of growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, while pursuing the dream of becoming the ultimate athlete. Tebow talks about the many choices he faced growing up within a devout Christian family and being homeschooled by his loving mother. He makes it clear that although the life of a super star athlete may seem glamorous, it also comes at a price. Tebow faced many challenges as a child because of adoring coaches and jealous teammates. Tebow also discusses the unsettling inequalities of college sports, and how the establishment takes advantage of players while making millions on their talents. In summary, Tim Tebow demonstrates that faith, moral character and focused determination are what enable this iconic professional athlete. Tebow is a prime example of a rare athlete seeking mental, spiritual and physical perfection.

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Niki Gordon picked these books.

Tooth and Claw by Jo WaltonTooth and Claw
by Jo Walton
I’m not sure that most fantasy lovers would find a fantasy book with a Victorian base appealing. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from reading Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw. This book has an interesting twist on what would normally be classified as a Victorian-themed novel. All the characters in the book are dragons living in a Victorian-like society. The book follows five siblings and their struggles to cope with life in the wake of their father’s death. It has a wonderful mix of characters, storylines, and humor. Although this wasn’t the typical fantasy book, I thought it was a fun book to read and I really enjoyed it.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Little Sisters of Eluria by Peter David and Robin FurthThe Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. Little Sisters of Eluria
by Peter David and Robin Furth
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books and was excited to see the books come back to life with a series of comics. The Little Sisters of Eluria is a novella Stephen King wrote that he said came to him in an image while working on the Dark Tower books. In this adaptation, Roland, the Gunslinger, is on a quest to find the Man in Black with the hope that he will lead him to The Dark Tower. However, his journey is temporarily halted when he is nearly killed by a band of mutants. The Little Sisters of Eluria come to his rescue…or so it seems. Robin Furth and Peter David have done a fabulous job of making this adaptation a horror story that will live up to the expectations of any Stephen King fan. The illustrations themselves are both wonderful and horrifying at the same time. I found it exciting to see Roland take form visually on the page and highly recommend any Dark Tower fans to read the comics.

The Magicians by Lev GrossmanThe Magicians
by Lev Grossman
The Magicians has been described as an adult version of Harry Potter. There’s a lot of magic, a school for magic, and the book seems Harry Potter-like in the beginning, but as the story unfolds, it ends up feeling very different. This novel isn’t so black and white as to have the heroic figures or epic battles against good and evil that most fantasy books have. The characters are quite ordinary, making the same mistakes and mishaps that you or I would make. It just turns out that they can do fantastic things with magic. The novel follows Quentin Coldwater, a college student who would like nothing more than to escape the boredom of everyday life. That wish comes true when he’s unexpectedly lead down a Brooklyn ally only to find himself at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. It is here that Quentin starts a journey beyond his wildest imagination. This was a great book. It was slow moving at first, but as the story unfolded, it soon became engaging, imaginative, and exciting.

The Buddha by Deepak ChopraBuddha
by Deepak Chopra
Buddha portrays the life of Indian Prince, Siddhartha, and his epic journey to becoming the enlightened one, the Buddha. Although Deepak Chopra is known for his non-fiction self-help books, here he tells us a beautiful and inspiring fictional story. It begins with a sheltered Prince whose first glimpse of the suffering in the outside world leads him to abandon his inheritance, wife, and child to follow a spiritual path. He becomes a wandering monk putting his mind and body to every spiritual test imaginable. It is only when he accepts his failure to conquer the mind-body does he transcend to the path of enlightenment. Chopra does a wonderful job of portraying Siddhartha’s internal conflict in a way that the reader can relate to. The Buddha is seen as someone no more special then you or I and that enlightenment is within everyone’s grasp. This book will inspire readers to include compassion, peace, and serenity in their own lives. There is also a helpful Q and A section on Buddhism in the back of the book.

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Jackie Angel Picked these books:

Trophy Hunt by C. J. BoxTrophy Hunt
by C.J. Box

Box continues his pattern of gritty & compelling storytelling with the 4th installment of the Joe Pickett series, Trophy Hunt. The story begins with the discovery of a mutilated moose, which quickly leads to mutilated cows, then humans. A ridiculed task force, corrupt sheriff & paranormal expert later, Pickett finally gets to the bottom of it all. It’s your classic who-done-it novel set in the wilds of Wyoming with a hero everybody will love.

Winterkill by C. J. BoxWinterkill
by C.J. Box

The 3rd Joe Pickett novel, Winterkill, is written in the familiar Box style of classic mystery writing. In this story Joe must solve the crime of illegal elk hunting & the murder of the National Forrest District Supervisor who is found pinned to a tree with arrows. Box also weaves in the drama of the biological mother of Joe’s foster daughter coming back to town to claim her. Not an easy task for most but Pickett pulls it off with an understated cowboy style you can’t help but love.

Winter Study by Nevada BarrWinter Study
by Nevada Barr
This is Barr’s 14th thriller to feature National Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon. She is a refreshing hero who uses her perception & instinct to solve the mystery instead of brute force. The setting is Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. Anna is there with a group of researchers to study moose & wolves. However when the study is interrupted by murder, it takes on a whole new meaning. If you enjoy the background of nature your sure to enjoy this one as it is full of beautiful descriptive details of nature at its wildest.

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Allison Midgley picked these books:

Island of Lost Maps by Miles HarveyThe Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime
by Miles Harvey

In 1995, Gilbert Bland, Jr. was caught stealing maps from the Peabody Library in Baltimore – cutting them out of books with a razor blade. When journalist Miles Harvey read about the incident, it sparked his curiosity about the person who would commit what turned out to be a methodical, serial crime spree involving at least 3 countries, 5 aliases, 200 maps and the FBI. I really enjoyed this entertaining and informative look at the history and culture of rare books, libraries, maps.

Cutting For Stone by Abraham VergheseCutting For Stone

by Abraham Verghese

How do brothers, conjoined and separated, orphaned and adopted at birth, become enemies – and then overcome betrayal to heal their relationship? With a focus on the world of medicine, from India and Ethiopia to New York and Boston, this first novel is rich in detail and description of places, people, and events. Some of the events are strange and surreal; some are strange and all too real. Thomas Stone, the boys’ father, looks grief-stricken out of his room as he mourns the death of the boys’ mother: “The oaks and maples outside the window of his room are wild men with their heads on fire.” This wonderful book, with its complex layers of symbolism and metaphor, tackles some very difficult topics, and it succeeds because it never floats off into the abstract but always stays concrete and down to earth. It also shows both the worst and the best of what people can be.

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie OtsukaWhen The Emperor Was Divine
by Julie Otsuka

When Japanese Americans were moved to internment camps during World War II, their lives were disrupted and were never the same again. Each chapter of this beautifully written short novel is told from a different family member’s point of view. Mother, sisters, brother, father tell different parts of the story, and their characters come alive. I felt the isolation, disorientation, and ultimately the resignation of these ordinary people who were so affected by circumstances beyond their control.
Our library doesn’t own this book, but it’s well worth placing a hold for a copy from another library or checking out Otsuka’s new book The Buddha in the Attic.

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria RussellDreamers of the Day
by Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell writes informative and entertaining historical novels. In this 2008 book, Agnes Shanklin, an aging teacher from Ohio, takes the trip of a lifetime to Egypt in 1921. Her adventure goes beyond the usual when she finds herself in the midst of the Cairo Peace Conference. She meets Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence, and Gertrude Bell as they discuss the post-colonial divisions that created the Middle Eastern countries that we know today. She also becomes romantically involved with a courtly German gentleman, only to find out he’s not as innocent as he seems. Intrigue, historical detail, a good writing style, and a strong female character make this an engaging weekend read.

The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary
by David Levithan

In this short book, a man narrates the story of his love relationship alphabetically. Each page has a word that’s defined or that defines the interaction between the man and his girlfriend. Most of the words are quite ordinary; the book made me think about the significance of context and how thoroughly we personalize words. I wasn’t always sure exactly what was going on in the plot because it goes back and forth in time, but I liked the creativity of the book’s structure. Some of the passages were comical, and some of the language and phrases were elegant, poignant and beautiful. This is a great read for people interested in writing.

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Ursula Gray picked these books:

Faithful Place by Tana FrenchFaithful Place
by Tana French

Dublin is the setting for this novel that begins in 1985. Nineteen year old Frank Machney and his girlfriend Rose make plans to run away to London, get married, find jobs and escape the poverty they now live in. On the night they were to leave, Rose never shows up. Heartbroken and assuming he's gotten a brush off, Frank never returns home.

Twenty-four years later, Rose's suitcase is found in an abandoned house and Frank must return home again. He finds himself in all the unhappy relationships he left behind and begins searching for the truth about what really happened to Rose.

This is a well written book with well developed plots and characters. A great summer read.

The Confession by John GrishamThe Confession
by John Grisham

“For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one going free." This is the case of Dante Drumm who is set to be executed within the next four days for murdering and raping a high school cheerleader.

The real murderer, suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, decided to come forward and set the record straight. Because he himself is a convicted felon, he has a hard time convincing the authorities he is actually the guilty party. Will he succeed?

This is a good book that really describes how the legal system actually works and how oftentimes it can fail. If you enjoy legal thrillers as I do, you should really enjoy this latest from John Grisham.

Unbroken by Laura HillenbrandUnbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand

This is the true story of Louis Zamperini (born in Olean, NY) who became a track star at the University of Southern California. His coach claimed the only runner who could beat him was Seabiscuit. After training for the 1940 Olympics, he was on his way to Tokyo only to find the games had been canceled. He did go to Japan, however, as an Air Force Lieutenant. After his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean, he was captured by the Japanese while floating on a raft and was savagely abused for many years as a prisoner of war.

Unbroken describes Mr. Zamperini's life in the prison camp and how he survived by his inexhaustible courage and fortitude.

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Ann Giddings picked these books:

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullersThe Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers

At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated -- and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.

The Art of Racing In the Rain by Garth SteinThe Art of Racing In the Rain
by Garth Stein

Ever wondered what your dog is thinking? Enzo is a lab terrier mix who rides shotgun with race car driver Denny Swift as he pursues success on the track and off. Denny meets and marries Eve, has a daughter, Zoë, and risks his savings and his life to make it on the professional racing circuit. Enzo, frustrated by his inability to speak and his lack of opposable thumbs, watches Denny's old racing videos, coins koanlike aphorisms that apply to both driving and life, and hopes for the day when his life as a dog will be over and he can be reborn a man. Enzo is a reliable companion and a likable narrator.
It is a meditation on humility and hope in the face of despair.

The Lacuna by Barbara KingsolverThe Lacuna
by Barbara Kingsolver

Harrison William Shepherd is the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings it reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon).

Life of Pi by Yann MartelLife of Pi
by Yann Martel

A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says. Pi Patel spends a beguiling boyhood in Pondicherry, India, as the son of a zookeeper. Growing up beside the wild beasts, Pi gathers an encyclopedic knowledge of the animal world. His curious mind also makes the leap from his native Hinduism to Christianity and Islam, all three of which he practices with joyous abandon. In his 16th year, Pi sets sail with his family and some of their menagerie to start a new life in Canada. Halfway to Midway Island, the ship sinks into the Pacific, leaving Pi stranded on a life raft with a hyena, an orangutan, an injured zebra and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. After the beast dispatches the others, Pi is left to survive for 227 days with his large feline companion on the 26-foot-long raft, using all his knowledge, wits and faith to keep himself alive. The sharp observations of the young narrator keep the tale brisk and engaging. Martel's potentially unbelievable plot line soon demolishes the reader's defenses, cleverly set up by events of young Pi's life that almost naturally lead to his biggest ordeal.

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen NorrisThe Cloister Walk
by Kathleen Norris

In the tradition of Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris gives us an intimate look at how religious life fills a gap in the soul. Her poetic sensibilities internalize the monastery as a symbol of spirituality, with its sanctity and humor, questioning and uncertainty, rhythm and vigor. Beyond moral precepts and Bible stories, Cloister Walk is a very personal account of religion lived fully. It depicts a depth and beauty of spirituality in monastic life that has survived the vicissitudes of Roman Catholic politics and pomp.

What emerges, finally, is an affecting portrait, one of the most vibrant since Merton's of the misunderstood, often invisible world of monastics, as seen by a restless, generous intelligence

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Jen Stickles picked these books:

Death From the Snows by Brigitte AubertDeath from the Woods
by Brigitte Aubert

Elise is left blind, mute and quadriplegic after a bomb explosion that leaves her husband dead. This dark mystery (which also has moments of humor) is told from Elise’s point of view, meaning we don’t know what the characters look like, only what they smell and sound like. Elise must use what senses she has and her intelligence to solve the horrific murders of local boys. This book is not currently in our library but we own the sequel Death from the Snow.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersTipping the Velvet
by Sarah Waters

This admittedly steamy novel by first time author Sarah Waters tells the story of two women, Nan and Kitty, in Victorian England. Kitty is a cross-dressing singer and Nan is her dresser and secret lover. Sarah Waters description is fantastic and she shines a different light on the traditional historical fiction novel. Tipping the Velvet is filled with passion, betrayal, scandal, violence, redemption and love. It’s not for everyone, but I recommend you try it.

Milk: A Novel by Darcey SteinkeMilk: a Novel
by Darcey Steinke

This short novel is about three individuals; a new mother who feels ignored by her husband, a gay Episcopal priest dealing with the death of his boyfriend and a monk who left the monastery after fifteen years because he felt abandoned by God. Steinke has a very fluid of way of writing and her words stay with you after you read the final page and put the book back on the shelf.

Iodine by Haven KimmelIodine
by Haven Kimmel

Haven Kimmel takes you on a confusing but fantastically written ride in her novel Iodine. Trace Pennington is running away from a memory and in order to help her escape she creates a new persona, Ianthe Covington an intelligent college student who is in love with her professor. The problem is Trace/Ianthe is an unreliable narrator so you don’t know what, if anything, she tells us is true. Kimmel pulls you down with Trace into the depths of her breakdown and leaves you questioning everything right along with her. This novel is disturbing and complex but well worth the effort.

Misfortune by Wesley StaceMisfortune
by Wesley Stace

Set in England in the early 1800’s, this is the story of Rose, a baby who is discovered in the trash. Lord Loveall decides to raise her as his own heir and dress her in the finest frocks. As Rose becomes a young woman she is confused by the mustache she is growing and her interest in the fairer sex. The secret that Lord Loveall has been keeping from his daughter is that she is in fact his son. Now Rose must choose between continuing her life as a woman, becoming the man she was born or something in between.

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Lois Bulger picked these books:

The Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

Although this novel opens with the murder of a family, it quickly moves into the friendly storytelling of the sole survivor of the attack, an 18 month-old baby. He toddles into a nearby graveyard and is quickly adopted by a host of the graveyard’s ghostly residents. Silas, one of the guardians, ensures that “Bod” receives food, books, and anything else he might need from the human world. He grows from baby to teen in a series of adventures both in and out of the graveyard with the continual threat of the man Jack, who killed his family. Be sure to read this engaging novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Coraline.

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrauThe City of Ember
by Jeanne DuPrau

There is no moon or stars in the city of Ember because the only light during the “day” comes from flood lamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond the city are the pitch black Unknown Regions which no one has ever explored because the understanding of fire and electricity has been lost. For 250 years the inhabitants have lived pleasantly with their vast storerooms filled with everything. But now the lights flicker and go out more and more and the shelves are getting empty more and more. What will happen when the generator fails? Can Doon and Lina find a way out? Read the book and get hooked!

The Oracle Betrayed by Catherine FisherThe Oracle Betrayed
by Catherine Fisher

This page-turning fantasy by award-winning Welsh poet and author quickly grabs readers with a convincingly imagined Greco-Egyptian setting and characters. The heroine Mirany begins the story as a timid teen serving the High Priestess, the masked Speaker who discerns the wishes of a god through a mysterious island oracle. Human sacrifice, tomb robbers, an offended Rain Goddess, and no shortage of mystic burial rites and dusty tombs keep you on the edge and hungry for the sequel (which the library has!).

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Melody Fanton picked these books:

The Dirty Life by Kristin KimballThe Dirty Life
by Kristin Kimball
631.584 KIM [FOYER]

This is a book about a love affair between a woman, a man, and the land. The author abandoned her career as a journalist in New York City to start a cooperative farm in upstate New York when she fell in love with a farmer she had interviewed.
With humor and candidness, the author writes of their resolve to “live outside the river of consumption” on a 500 acre farm on Lake Champlain that they first rented and then bought. They eventually produced a cooperative on the CSA model, in which members pay a yearly fee and are provided with all the fresh, organic vegetables and meat they need. Most in the community expected them to fail.
Chronicled season by season, Kimball writes of their struggles, triumphs, and love affair with the earth and the community. You will be able to relate to some of the characters in the community, and the opening paragraphs will make your mouth water.
This is a beautifully written book that will make you laugh, marvel, and ponder how we grow and distribute our food.

White Spirit by Paule ConstantWhite Spirit
by Paule Constant

Consisting of only 172 pages, White Spirit is a satire of colonialism’s absurdities and consequences written by an award winning French author and beautifully translated by Betsy Wing.
Victor, a poor and naïve young Frenchman lands a job onboard The Will of God (irony intended), a dilapidated vessel sailing for Africa. On board with him is Lola, a mulatto prostitute, and Alexis, a monkey who doesn’t know he’s not human. Their destination is a vast African banana plantation where Victor works at running a store.
When Victor finds that a mysterious white powder is capable of bleaching black skin white, it sets off a series of events with horrible results.
Ms. Constant has written a spare but powerful little novel that encompasses concerns still among us today…environmental havoc, adulterated religion, racism, survival and longing.

The Painted Drum by Louise ErdrichThe Painted Drum
by Louise Erdrich

When Faye Travers is asked to appraise a family estate, she isn’t surprised to find it contains many Native American artifacts. The family are, afterall, descendants of an Indian agent who worked on the North Dakota Ojibwe reservation. However, she is surprised to find a rare ceremonial drum, and when she hears it beat without anyone touching it, she takes it and begins a quest for its origins.
Erdrich weaves the story back and forth in time and place, telling the multigenerational stories of the lives touched by the artifact. The drum has a mysterious reviving quality and is instrumental (pun intended) in redeeming the lives of the characters.
The critics felt this novel was not her best work, but I found its story of redemption elegantly written and extremely powerful.

The Promise by Oral Lee BrownThe Promise: How one Woman Made Good on Her Extraordinary Pact to Send a Classroom of First-Graders to College
by Oral Lee Brown

Haunted by an encounter with a little girl begging for food in her East Oakland neighborhood, Ms. Brown sets out to find the girl. She begins her search at the local elementary school and encounters a classroom of 23 first graders. Although the little girl was not among them, the author was so compelled by the experience that she made a promise to those 23 students. Oral Lee Brown promised that if they finished high school, she would pay for their college education.
On a $45,000 salary, Brown pledged to save $10,000 every year, a pledge that strained her marriage and required her to work several jobs.
12 years later she made good on her promise and sent 19 of the 23 students to college. Many of the students were from unstable and disadvantaged families. This is a truly inspirational story of caring, selflessness, and empowerment.
(The author established the Oral Lee Brown Foundation which sends 20 teenagers from East Oakland to college every four years.)

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Brian Hildreth picked these books:

The Story of Stuff by Annie LeonardThe Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession With Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities and Our Health
written by Annie Leonard

This 2010 piece of non-fiction is an interesting read about the habits and decisions of developed countries. Annie Leonard goes into detail about the many types of goods and materials people in developed countries overly consume and the devastating impact this consumption has on third world nations. It is a well-researched and well-written piece of literature that may enable all people to think twice about how their daily behaviors impact the global society. Leonard also uses this book as a platform to shed light on the environmental impact of mass consumption.

Let Every Nation Know by Robert DallekLet Every Nation Know: John F. Kennedy in His Own Words
written by Robert Dallek

This brief account of the 35th president attempts to explain the often controversial decisions made by Kennedy and his administration. Referencing several memorable and well-known speeches, Dallek helps readers understand how often our nation seems to survive on chaos, but yet continues to flourish despite international differences. Regardless of political affiliation, all Americans can learn from this writing despite having been written from a partisan perspective. Some readers may not agree with Dallek’s opinions, but the book definitely provides a worthy behind the scenes look at one of our nation’s most popular presidents.

The Perfection Point by John BrenkusThe Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, the Highest Jump, and the Limits of Athletics
written by John Brenkus

A New York Times Bestseller, John Brenkus discusses the tipping point of human physiological perfection, and the challenges athletes face. This is a great read for anyone who seeks to understand why athletes perform and excel at certain levels. Whether you are an armchair quarterback or a marathon runner, this book goes into detail as to why your favorite athlete continues to break records, while future athletes will eventually hit the ceiling. Brenkus presents a great overall picture of the sports world and infuses decades of research and statistics to paint it. You will be amazed at the lengths athletes will go to improve their personal bests.

Confession by Leo TolstoyConfession: Where There Is Life There Is Faith
written by Leo Tolstoy

A quaint piece of work by Tolstoy examines the faith of Christian followers and the spiritual beliefs of one of history’s most well-known authors. Tolstoy delivers a story of personal and spiritual awakening that takes a lifelong journey to acquire. He references his own life and the hardships of addiction and deceit to provide some understanding of what it means to believe in something greater than yourself. This book is very short in content and does not deliver a full examination of Tolstoy’s philosophical findings, but does provide a great overview for those wanting to learn a little bit more about Tolstoy.

Everyday Food by the publishers of Martha Stewart LivingEveryday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes For Any Time of Day
from the publishers of Martha Stewart Living

If you can’t cook, then this book is your best friend. It is an easy, step by step guide to cooking great tasting meals for your family. The recipes incorporate healthy, living ingredients that you can feel comfortable eating. Most meals in this book can be prepared and completed in 30 minutes or less. Some recipes may seem a bit funky or too far off for children, but you may be surprised. One of the finest entries includes the ingredients: rice, avocado, soy sauce, lemon juice and cooked shrimp. If it sounds complicated, it’s not. Any person who can cook scrambled eggs or make pancakes can definitely make these tasty and affordable meals for family and friends.

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Liz Buchholz picked these books:

Reckless by Andrew GrossReckless
by Andrew Gross
Ty Hauck is shattered by the news. A close friend from his past, along with her
Husband and daughter, has been brutally murdered in her home by vicious intruders, but there is something not quite right about the circumstances. The husband was a chief equities trader at a top investment bank and he had lost millions for his company in the financial meltdown.
A mega-trader at another financial institution commits “suicide” after causing the failure of his firm. Is it coincidence or is there some sort of global financial terrorism involved.

Ty Hauck and Naomi Blum, an agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury, work together to unravel a scheme that spans the globe and could shake the security of our country and the world.

This thriller has great twists and will keep you wanting to read just one more chapter.

Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson & Richard DilalloAlex Cross’s Trial
by James Patterson & Richard Dilallo
Warning!: This is not a book about Alex Cross. It is a book “written” by Alex Cross, in which he passes along the story of his great-uncle Abraham and his struggles for survival in the era of the Ku Klux Klan.
Ben Corbett, a lawyer fighting against racism in Washington, D.C. is called upon by President Theodore Roosevelt to return to his hometown of Eudora, Mississippi and investigate rumors of lynchings. He can’t say no to the president, even though it could cost him his marriage.
When Ben arrives in Eudora, he finds that he is unwelcome by his father and soon many of his former friends become enemies.
Some of the language is offensive, but you just can’t put it down.

Bodily Harm by Robert DugoniBodily Harm
by Robert Dugoni

Who would have thought that the world of toy manufacturing could be so cut-throat.
David Sloane is about to win a medical malpractice suit against a respected pediatrician for the death of a child when he is approached by an unkempt young man who says that he is the one responsible for killing the little boy and it all has to do with the toy that he invented.
Kendall Toys has been going downhill for the last few years, but now has the plans for “Metamorphis” a toy that every child is going to want and could reverse their fortunes. Are they willing to commit murder to keep their plans out of the hands of other manufacturers who want to buy them out or is someone much higher up trying to get rid of anyone who has knowledge of this new toy.
Sloane finds himself, and those close to him, in the sights of a hired assassin.
Great courtroom drama with lots of twists and turns.

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Niki Gordon picked these books:

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave GibbonsWatchmen

by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Watchmen was first put out in 12 issues for DC Comics in 1986-7. It follows a group of superheroes (or villains to some) called the Crimebusters and the plot to kill and discredit them. As more former Crimebusters start turning up dead, the remaining members wind up coming together to solve the puzzle of whose behind it. In the meantime, the God-like Dr. Manhattan must contend with his responsibility to the human race.

The current graphic novel is an oversized version with lots of extras including a revamped presentation by illustrator Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins, a glimpse into the early visuals of the characters, and Alan Moore’s own tale of how it all began. Moore is one the best in the graphic story medium and he doesn’t disappoint. Watchmen truly is the best graphic novel I’ve read because it’s just that-a novel. The story and characterization is sophisticated, complex, and engaging. You don’t have to be a comic book geek to appreciate this book. One of the best parts of the book is the “Tale of the Black Freighter,” a pirate comic that acts as a story within the story that ties into the main plot of the novel. I’ve read Watchmen a couple of times now and it’s definitely one of those books I’ll continue to read over and over again!

Ont eh Road by Jack KerouacOn the Road
by Jack Kerouac

I first read On the Road in college and immediately fell in love with it. First published in 1957, it’s a cross-country bohemian tale of restlessness and desire for freedom that any young person could appreciate. Kerouac sat down at his typewriter and wrote this adventurous epic on one continuous scroll in 3 weeks. The book is narrated by Kerouac’s alter-ego, Sal Paradise. To him, it’s not so much why we live, but how we live. Sal gets much of his inspiration from Dean Moriarty, a character based on his real life friend Neal Cassidy. Dean is an eccentric, fast talking womanizing con man who adds a lot of depth to the book. We follow Sal as he hit’s the road by hopping trains, hitchhiking, and even riding in stolen cars in an attempt to fulfill his desire to live free of ambitions, materialism, and ideology.

On of the best aspects of the book is that it is part autobiographical. Kerouac bases the characters on people he’s met while traveling and on real life friends and lovers. As Sal travels across America we get to see sleepy towns, jungle-like cities, an bug infested tropics through their eyes.

The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny by Simon R. GreenThe Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
by Simon R. Green

This urban fantasy is the 10th in a series that takes place in an alternative city in London. The Nightside is no ordinary city. It’s a dark, seedy place full of the oddest most dangerous characters you could imagine and it’s always 3 a.m.. In it we follow P.I. John Taylor through this urban nightmare as he escorts an Elven Lord with the help of a transvestite superhero. As Taylor predicts, it’s not long before “everything hit’s the fan” and he ends up taking on even more dangerous jobs that take him on an action packed roller-coaster ride.

This book is an easy read; it’s short, to the point, and full of never ending action. It’s packed with every kind of bizarre fantasy character imaginable from werewolves to flying carpet riders. Simon Green proves he’s a great story teller with a wild imagination. Fortunately, it’s not pivotal that newcomers read the previous titles. This is a book you can jump right into and enjoy.

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Jackie Angel-Stebbins picked these books:

90 Minutes in Heaven90 Minutes in Heaven
by Don Piper
LP 231.7 PIP

Tells the true story of Don Piper’s experience of dying, going to Heaven then returning to life on Earth. This is a griping story of spiritual, emotional & physical suffering and the victory Piper finds over it. I highly recommend this for anyone who needs encouragement, a boost in their faith or is just curious about life after death.

Left BehindLeft Behind
by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

The 1st of 13 books in this amazing & popular series, this extremely entertaining & Biblically accurate storyline tells about the end times when the Antichrist takes human form & Jesus returns for His 1000 year reign. Left Behind encompasses the very beginning of this time when non-Christians are the only ones left on Earth. Once you start reading you won’t want to put it down!

Matthew's StoryMatthew’s Story
by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Book 1 of 4 in The Jesus Chronicles series. Authors LaHaye & Jenkins rewrite the Gospel of Matthew in novel form. This story does not lack in drama & emotion as it tells the tale of young Levi who grows into a bitter skeptic then finds himself a changed man (with a changed name) when he meets Jesus. This is an excellent read. Not only is it entertaining but also informative & educational.

The Last KingdomThe Last Kingdom
 by Bernard Cornwell

The 1st in a series of historical fiction. The storyline follows the life of Uhtred from a young boy into manhood telling along the way about the brutal Norseman & their attempt to conquer England. There is definitely more history than drama in this novel. Although the characters are well developed it gives the feel of a good documentary presenting both sides evenly.

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Ursula Gray picked these books

Testimony by Anita ShreveTestimony
by Anita Shreve

In a prestigious New England boarding school, the headmaster finds himself with a scandalous videotape of several students including a fourteen year old girl, which changes the lives of all those involved forever. This novel documents the lives of those involved and builds up to a shocking ending. It is well written and although the subject matter may be disturbing to some, it is a very riveting story until the end. Anita Shreve has again shown her literary talents and is one of my favorite authors.

Skinny Dip by Carl HiaasenSkinny Dip
by Carl Hiaasen

When Chaz Perrone's wife discovers his unethical and illegal doctoring of water supplies in the Everglades, she is pushed overboard from a cruise ship in the dead of night by her husband. Instead of perishing, she is rescued by a former cop and decides to haunt and taunt her husband until he ruins himself. The fun now begins. This hilarious story is light and just a fun book to read.

I Am Nujood, Aged 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
by Nujood Ali

This is the true story of Nujood, who at age ten, became the first child bride in Yemen to win a divorce. At this early age she was taken from her family and given in marriage to a man three times her age. After much suffering, she escaped and began her courageous battle to be free again. This is a heartbreaking story which has a happy ending and has given other young girls in Yemen a chance to be children again.

The Innocent Man by Joh GrishamThe Innocent Man
by John Grisham
364.15 GRI

Ron Williamson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle but never made it because of his drinking, drug abuse and women. In 1982 a cocktail waitress near his home was savagely murdered, and on the flimsiest evidence, Ron and his friend were charged, tried and sent to prison. In 1992, both were exonerated by new DNA evidence. This true story details the work that went into proving these men were truly innocent and shows how our legal system can be flawed. John Grisham again at his best.

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Ann Giddings picked these books:

Little BeeLittle Bee
by Chris Cleave

Little Bee is a 16-year old refugee from Nigeria who is always looking for a suicidal option for “when the men come”. There is nowhere to hide in her country. Poverty, abuse and death are common where she comes from.

In this compelling story, she changes the lives of a group of English citizens: a 4-year old boy who thinks he’s Batman, his widowed, 9-fingered mother, Sarah, and his anguished father. With building suspense, we discover the horrible thing that happened on the beach in Nigeria. This beautifully written and heartbreaking book shows the abyss between first and third world countries, the plight of refugees and insight into UK detention centers.

NomadNomad: From Islam to America: a Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In this memoir, Ayaan Hirsi Ali relates her journey from the Islamic tribal culture, beliefs and traditions. After an awful childhood lived according to a strict interpretation of Muslim laws, she escaped to Europe rather than marry a man she’d never met. She speaks out against genital mutilation, honor killings and the current treatment of impoverished, abused Muslim women.

I admired this woman’s personal story of survival and self-transformation. Her writing makes me realize just how lucky I am to be an American woman.

The Faith ClubThe Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew—Three Women Search for Understanding
by Ranya Idliby

The Faith Club arose out of the rubble of 9-11, as three young mothers living in New York City agreed to meet together to discuss their different faiths and how they might learn to live together in peace. Over the next two years, the women came to appreciate and accept each other as individuals who share a common humanity and a common quest for peace.

I highly recommend this book. Whether or not you agree or disagree with their conclusions, you’ll be enriched by their journey of faith.

Bread of AngelsBread of Angels: A Journey to Faith and Love
by Stephanie Saldana

In 2004 Stephanie Saldana went to Damascus to study Islam on a Fulbright Scholarship, focusing specifically on the Muslim prophet Jesus of the Koran, intending to foster a greater American understanding of Islam in the post-9/11 world. As a student of divinity she was eager to learn how Christians practiced their faith in a Muslim country. She found Christianity and Islam have many common themes.

She spends time in a Christian monastery and also spends many weeks with a female sheika, a religious scholar and an authority on Islamic law that had founded a prestigious women’s madrassas-religious school in Damascus more than 20 years ago.

I am very fond of this memoir…a lot of insights into Islam and a beautifully written story of self discovery and personal transformation.

by Marilynne Robinson

This is a novel which reads like a memoir. The narrator, John Ames, is 76, a preacher who has lived almost all his life in Gilead, Iowa. He is writing a letter to his almost seven-year-old son, the blessing of his second marriage. The reason for the letter is Ames's failing health. He wants to leave an account of himself for this son who will never really know him.
As an old man in Gilead, Iowa in 1956, Ames writes of his grandfather, a controversial figure in the Kansas abolitionist movement, and of his own father's lifelong pacifism.

These are the things that Ames tells his son about: his ancestors, the nature of love and friendship, and the part that faith and prayer have played in his life. The writing is a meditation on how even the simplest life can be touched by grace and wonder.

In short, a beautiful book by an outstanding writer.

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Eileen Tecza, Auditorium Director, picked these books:

The Double Comfort Safari ClubThe Double Comfort Safari Club
Alexander McCall Smith

The eleventh book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels continues with the charming story of Precious Ramotswe, her detective agency, friends and family, her intuition and intelligence, and her observations on human behavior. Her detective cases evolve at their own pace, letting the reader savor each clue and forcing us to slow our own pace of life – even if for only a chapter.

Set in Botswana, Smith gives us a taste of life in rural southern Africa. I suggest starting from McCall’s first book in the series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and building the relationships with the characters as they build their relationships with each other.

Note: The HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, is a delightful adaptation of several of the books in the series.

Saving CeeCee HoneycuttSaving CeeCee Honeycutt
Beth Hoffman

The title character, CeeCee, is a twelve year old girl whisked from a nightmare childhood into a southern world of strong women, southern hospitality and rules, and segregation / integration in the early 1960’s. This charming and engrossing novel runs the gamut of emotions for the reader as Hoffman tells, in her first novel, the story of a young girl who has been granted a second chance under the guidance and affection of strong role models as she approaches adolescence.

Prodigal SummerProdigal Summer
Barbara Kingsolver

Prodigal Summer weaves three sets of characters together in a story set in southern Appalachia. A wildlife biologist, a city girl turned farmer’s wife, and elderly feuding neighbors begin their stories individually and find their connections to one another as the season progresses.

A plus in this complex novel is the characters’ interaction in the life cycles of the coyote and chestnut tree.

Barbara Kingsolver always tells an intriguing and engrossing story - this is one of my favorites.

The Zookeeper's WifeThe Zookeeper’s Wife
Diane Ackerman

This is a non-fiction account of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, zookeepers of the Warsaw Zoo, when the Nazi forces invaded Poland and devastated Warsaw. Trading their care-giving skills of animals for saving the lives of people, they smuggled and nurtured over three hundred Jews to safety, hiding them in the zoo and their home. While Jan actively participated in the Polish Resistance, Antonina kept her household, including their young son, as a place of refuge.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is also a historical account with details of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi mentality.

Sundays at Tiffany'sSundays at Tiffany’s
James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

This charming tale explores the relationship of Jane, a lonely nine year old girl, and her imaginary friend, Michael. Her mother, a busy Broadway producer, neglects Jane but each Sunday takes her for ice cream and then to Tiffany’s to admire the jewelry. In the imaginary friend world, a friend must leave his assigned child when she reaches her ninth birthday and Michael must leave Jane.

Now in her thirties, Jane is leading a lonely and unhappy life although she has had great success producing a play, “Thank Heaven”, recounting her childhood with Michael. Michael, on leave from his last assigned child, and Jane meet and reconnect, realizing how much each meant to the other.

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Lois Bulger, the Children's Librarian, picked these books:

Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins has written a trilogy of books which include Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay (release date August 24, 2010). These books are written for the young adult audience but don’t let that ever stop you from reading these page-turners. You can’t put these dystopian novels down! Each year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are sent from each of the twelve districts of the nation of Panem, once known as North America, to fight to the death in the annual Hunger Games shown live on TV. One can’t help but get caught up in the suspense of Katniss and her fight for survival. It is guaranteed that on August 24th I will be buying multiple copies of Mockingjay, the conclusion of this excellent trilogy, for our library shelves in the Youth section. Highly recommended.

The CellThe Cell or Duma Key or Lisey’s Story
by Stephen King

I swore I would never read a Stephen King novel, I don’t like horror movies, horror books, or things that go bump in the night. So it was with trepidation that I read my 1st Stephen King novel and in bed before falling asleep, no less. What a pleasant surprise to find that Mr. King is a “wordsmith” extraordinaire who loves playing with your mind and teasing your patience. Read the book jackets and try reading at least one Stephen King novel in your life you will be delightfully surprised.

The Power of NowThe Power of Now: a Guide to Spiritual Enlightment
by Eckhart Tolle

I usually read non-fiction books with metaphysical and spiritual content so this book is especially appealing to me on my life’s journey. You don’t read any of Tolle’s books cover to cover and say “that was nice”. You read a sentence or a paragraph, then you cogitate on it, digest it, and apply it to your self and live it. The goal of this book is to take you on a spiritual journey to find your true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality. Only for those who want to know “what’s it all about?”

The Poisonwood BiblePoisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

I got hooked on Barbara Kingsolver books when I read the Poisonwood Bible. Missionary Nathan Price, his wife and four daughters go to the Belgian Congo in 1959 totally unprepared for their new life. In addition to poisonous snakes, dangerous animals and the hostility of the villagers, there are also rebels in the jungle and the threat of war. What more do you need for great summer reading? Because I enjoyed her writing so much I went back to her 1st novel The Bean Trees (1988) and read everything she had written. I look forward to reading Lacuna her latest.

The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret: a Novel in Words and Pictures
by Brian Selznick

This fiction work is in the Youth Section of the library and well worth your effort to visit the shelves of your youth. Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. His secret and undercover life are put in jeopardy when he connects with a girl and a bitter old man who run a toy booth in the station. This book begs to be read by you and another person of your choice, taking turns reading and viewing the illustrations which are interspersed with the text. The illustrations actually serve as the unwritten text as the story flows along, so you really have to examine every page. I have never seen or read a book with a text/illustration concept such as this (this is not a graphic novel) and upon conclusion felt this book was bound for an award. In fact it did indeed win the Caldecott Medal in 2008. Have some fun this summer, lighten up and read this book alone or with a friend!

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Allison Midgley picked these books:

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary ShteyngartSuper Sad True Love Story
by Gary Shteyngart
Publisher’s Weekly calls this a “profane and dizzying satire, a dystopic vision of the future.” This novel is more than a love story between aging and anachronistic Lenny Abramov - who still reads BOOKS - and beautiful, 24-year old Korean American Eunice Park - who epitomizes a computerized, consumer, data-driven world; it is a darkly hilarious comedy and a commentary on where we are going as a society - one in which reading a posted government sign means you both consent to the rules and deny the sign’s existence.
While the language and some details make this a book that isn’t for everyone, it is a fascinating and disturbing look at America’s political, economic, corporate and cultural future, and it shows the power of an individual’s creativity and human love.

The Mapping of Love and DeathThe Mapping of Love and Death

by Jacqueline Winspear
In this latest mystery in the series featuring Maisie Dobbs, a post-World War I British private investigator, an older American couple hires Maisie to find the woman with whom their son - a veteran who died in the war - exchanged letters. I was entertained by the mystery, the settings, and Maisie’s character. This novel is as engaging as the first in the series, still my favorite, and left me looking forward to Winspear’s next novel.

Box of Matches by Nicholson BakerBox of Matches
by Nicholson Baker
This book was recommended to me several years ago by someone who doesn’t like reading fiction very much – an exceptional recommendation! Its quiet tone reinforces the narrator’s early morning musings which he writes by the light of his fireplace so that he doesn’t wake up his wife. Nicholson Baker clearly knows the brittle cold of winter and the refuge of a warm house; the plot and meaning of this short novel emerge through the author’s poetic descriptions and memorable language.

The Most of P.G. Wodehouseanything
by P.G. Wodehouse
Any time I’m looking for an entertaining distraction, I pick up one of P.G. Wodehouse’s warm, funny classic novels. Set in 1920’s Britain, they sparkle with upper class luxury, ludicrous hi-jinks, and literary witticisms. Many of the novels star the easily befuddled Bertie Wooster and his sardonic butler Jeeves. Bertie gets a hare-brained idea and Jeeves gets him out of the ensuing scrape time after time. There was a British comedy television program starring Hugh Laurie (of “House”) as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves several years ago, and the books quite live up to every episode.

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Liz Buchholz picked these books:

Water For ElephantsWater for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
Jacob Jankowski hates every minute of his life in a nursing home, but, oh, what memories he has.
At 21, due to a terrible set of circumstances, Jacob finds himself penniless and hopping the Great Benzini Brothers Circus train instead of sitting for his final exams in veterinary medicine at Cornell University. He doesn’t know if he will survive his first night on the train, let alone life with the circus.
We learn what life was like in a traveling big top show during the Great Depression. Gruen uses real circus jargon to make us feel more a part of the story as we get to know Camel, Uncle Al, August, Marlena and, of course, Rosie. She also includes photos from Barnum & Bailey and other circuses of the time, which I found fascinating.
I probably never would have picked this book, but it was highly recommended so I gave it a try and was hooked after a couple pages. Now it is one of my all-time favorites.

Missing WitnessMissing Witness
by Gordon Campbell
Doug McKenzie has just graduated from law school and gone to work for famed trial lawyer, Daniel Morgan in this suspenseful legal drama.
When the son of a wealthy rancher is murdered in his home, Morgan and McKenzie are hired by the victim’s father to defend his daughter-in-law, Rita Eddington. The only witness, or possible other suspect, is Rita’s mentally disturbed 12-year-old daughter, who is in a catatonic state.
Many family secrets will need to come out.
The courtroom scenes alone make it worth the read.

The NeighborThe Neighbor
by Lisa Gardner
Jason Jones arrives home from work early one morning to find his four-year old daughter asleep in her bed and his wife missing. When the police are brought in, Detective D. D. Warren finds Jason uncooperative and secretive and things seem “too normal” in the Jones household. However, Aidan Brewster, a convicted sex offender, is a neighbor who seems to be on edge. Both men become prime suspects and part of the media feeding frenzy that follows. There is a bit of profanity, but overall I found it enjoyable.

The murder of King TutThe Murder of King Tut: the Plot to Kill the Child King
by James Patterson and Martin Dugard
932.014 PAT
Since I have always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, this book caught my attention. After reading a few pages, I was hooked and found it to move along quickly.
The story shifts back and forth between Howard Carter’s many setbacks in his mission to uncover the pharaoh’s hidden tomb, and the boy king’s life in 1347 BC. Both were of great interest, but all of the palace intrigue that transpired during many of the pharaohs’ reigns kept me turning the pages.
Although I know that Patterson and Dugard did vast amounts of research before writing this book, I still feel that much of it is conjecture – but you will be entertained.

Angela's AshesAngela’s Ashes: a Memoir
by Frank McCourt
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all.” This is how Frank McCourt’s memoir of growing up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland begins. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed her children since his father rarely works, and when he does he drinks up any wages. However, through all this and the terrible living conditions, McCourt tells his tale with love and humor.
After finishing this, I couldn’t wait to read ‘Tis, which continues the story.
I give this one a high recommendation.

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Melody Fanton picked these books:

So Cold the RiverSo Cold the River
by Michael Koryta
This is a perfect read for a dark, chilly October night. Part thriller, part horror story and reminiscent of Stephen King and Peter Straub, Koryta spins a tale of power-lust that reaches from beyond the grave.
The main character, Eric Shaw, has lost his career as a Hollywood cinematographer and has eked out a living by making “video life portraits” of recently deceased persons. Commissioned to document the early years of a wealthy, terminally ill Chicago businessman, Shaw’s research uncovers generations of greed and a resident evil. Visions and hallucinations haunt Shaw that seem to be associated with the town’s peculiar mineral waters.

Packing for MarsPacking for Mars
by Mary Roach
Non-Fiction 571.0919 ROA
This book is chock full of spaceflight answers to questions you didn’t even know you had! Highly researched, but told with a clear sense of humor, this stranger-than-fiction account will have you chuckling with interest and amusement.
“Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?” “What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year?” Did you know there’s a shuttle training toilet?
Hilarious, educational, and entertaining.

The QuickeningThe Quickening
by Michelle Hoover
The author has based this story of the intertwined lives of two early 20th century farm women on her own great-grandmother’s 15 page journal.
Enidina Current and Mary Marrow live on neighboring Iowa farms. Although having little in common, the women depend on one another for survival and companionship. The depiction of the lives and times of these women clearly portrays the hardships, sacrifices, and resilience of the human spirit. A great reminder of where we came from and of what gets us through tough times.

by Ann Fortier
American Julie Jacobs travels to Siena, Italy in search of her heritage (and possible inheritance). It turns out she is descended from 14th century Guilietta Tomei, whose love of Romeo transcends their feuding families and inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
In her quest for the truth, Julie must use relics of the past and ancient texts to guide her. The plot uses history, mystery, and romance to create a fast-paced, modern thriller. A real page-turner.

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Brian Hildreth picked these books:

SERIOUS READING (best if read with a cup of coffee)

Stride Toward FreedomStride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story
by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Probably one of the best stories ever told through the words of a man that changed the history of our nation and the world. Stride toward Freedom is the first hand account of the Montgomery bus boycott, which brought the Civil Rights Movement to the center of national spotlight. Dr. Martin Luther King explains in specific detail the relationships that were formed and the century-long alliances that were broken to change the way African-Americans were treated in the Deep South. If anyone wants to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, they should seek this resource. There is a reason we as a nation recognize the sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King. This book helps us to understand the man he was and the people he helped us to become. It should be required reading for all Americans. (4.4.1968)

EaarthEaarth – Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben.

This April release about global warming is an absolute read for anyone that cares about our natural resources, and how they are used. Although the beginning of the book focuses on our absolute carelessness with Mother Nature since the Industrial Revolution, McKibben offers up some very sound advice that will help amend our wrong doings. Regardless if you believe global warming is real, this book will give practical tips for all people to live a simpler and “greener” life. If you don’t have a vegetable garden, you should start one. If you do have a vegetable garden, make it bigger. Oh yeah, no fertilizers or chemicals. Everyone should use good old compost from your family’s leftovers. It’s a start.

Seeds of TerrorSeeds of Terror: How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda
by Gretchen Peters

Released in April 2010, this book tells the story of investigative journalist Gretchen Peters and her efforts to fully understand the situation in Afghanistan. As noted, this is a serious read. Don’t expect to get a warm fuzzy feeling after hearing shocking statistics and incomprehensible acts of crime. It is amazing to see the direct link Peters is able to create between Afghanistan, terrorism and the rise in drug use across Europe and the United States. Terrorism has not only contributed to the loss of thousands of American soldiers and innocent civilians, it is a relentless force that claims the lives of millions of people through drug trafficking and drug consumption. This book is well researched and very informative; just make certain to wash it down with something more uplifting.


Nobody's FoolNobody’s Fool by Richard Russo

Published back in the 1995, this was one of Russo’s first books to receive national attention. Nobody’s Fool is a hysterical story about the many unique characters in an upstate New York town. Like Russo’s other books, he has a strong ability to relate to the common man and the struggles faced by those who have little or nothing. Although there are low points throughout the story, it is just part of the reality that Russo is able to vividly display. Sully, who is the main character, could be that Uncle that shows up at Christmas every 5 years looking for handouts. Although portrayed as a man with little ambitions, Sully is very interesting and keeps the story moving. If you like character development this is a book to checkout.

GalapagosGalapagos by Kurt Vonnegut

It’s not Bradbury, but it definitely feels like science fiction. This interesting tale told by one of the best authors of the 20th century is probably one of my favorite reads in terms of non-highly acclaimed work. Galapagos received less than good reviews when it first came out in 1985. It was probably because the storyline and characters weren’t all that interesting. When I first read the book, I agreed. However, after listening to a radio interview with Vonnegut back in college, I realized Vonnegut made no serious attempt at writing this book. His only concern was writing a story that he wanted to tell. Vonnegut was an optimist despite what people might think. Galapagos was Vonnegut’s way of telling us to be careful. The majority always has to deal with the decisions of the elite minority. If you want to read Vonnegut’s really good stuff, checkout Slaughterhouse-Five or the short stories of Bagombo Snuff Box. (4.11.2007)

IcebergIceberg by Clive Cussler

This 1975 release is Clive Cussler’s second Dirk Pitt novel. For anyone that hasn’t read Clive Cussler, this is the one you want to “start with”. I say “start with” because once you read it you will be hooked on the rest. This book is for those who want action and adventure. Dirk Pitt is James Bond and Indiana Jones rolled into one. There is plenty of car chases and shooting involved, so please don’t check it out if you want something that is relaxing. I am recommending this to any male that is a reluctant reader and wants to find something to spark enthusiasm for reading. I was not a big action adventure reader until I started with Clive Cussler. I would recommend any title by Clive Cussler. Keep the lights on when you read and prepare to keep guessing.

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Louann Pawlak picked these books:

People of the bookPeople of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Based on a true story, the author follows the survival of an ancient Jewish book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, through time. You must concentrate as she uses a narrative technique of ‘back and forth’ from the present to other important crisis-points of the past as the manuscript. You will learn about history, the Jewish culture and the clashes that ensued…with an ending worthy of the story. I did find that I wanted more about ‘the book’ and less about Hanna Heath, the rare-book expert…but the story-telling is spellbinding.

Stones from the riverStones from the River by Ursula Hegi

The setting is the small town of Burgdorf Germany before/during/after WWII. The protagonist is Trudi Montag, the local ‘dwarf’ who becomes the town library. The book chronicles everyday German life during the horrible Nazi times…very thought-provoking as odd characters struggle through their fate. This is not a ‘light’ read but well worth your intellectual challenge trying to understand ordinary people in extraordinary times.

New York: the novelNew York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

Read this historical novel for the sheer enjoyment of a multi-layered portrait of the growth of New York City thru the eyes of vivid, interesting characters. The author puts our hodgepodge of school-learned historical facts and events into an understandable continuum covering a 350 year time span. The wonderful flow of the book actually immerses the reader into history….excellent! PS I actually found a factual inaccuracy regarding the flow of the Niagara River…fun to know that it slipped by the editors.

Half broke horsesHalf Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

This is the story of the author’s maternal grandmother…her always interesting challenges and sometimes unbelievable life experiences and how she and her family coped with ‘life’. Starting in 1901, Lily faces life in the American Southwest, pre-WWI so we learn about that area of our country, that period of time and how one individual could be the personification of ‘one tough cookie’. Only flaw I found in the book is an absence of emotional responses to some very difficult situations.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

This is a work of historical fiction based on a true occurrence, the plague of 1666. The residents of a small isolated town in England choose to quarantine themselves in hopes of stopping the spread of this killer. Told through the eyes of Anna Frith, the author makes you see and feel the humanity and inhumanity of people facing life and death. Plan on a few all-nighters ….hard to put this one down!

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Ramona’s Staff Picks

Man or Mango?Man or Mango? By Lucy Ellmann
I enjoyed Man or Mango? because of how well Lucy Ellmann created a group of characters who disgusted and yet fascinated me at the same time. She compares human needs to insects’ routines, thus casting a nihilistic shadow over humanity itself. At the same time her characters made me laugh and despite their many faults I wanted to know how they all ended up connected.

House of LeavesHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielweski
With his debut novel, Danielweski manages to weave aspects of fiction, non-fiction, manuscript and poetry into a wonderfully original novel. I love this book because as the plot becomes more complicated so does the text itself thus drawing the reader into the world of the characters even more. I was captivated by this from beginning to end not only because of the characters and situations but because of the very aesthetics of the pages themselves.

Auschwitz: a New HistoryAuschwitz: A New History by Laurence Rees
The atrocities committed at Auschwitz have been exposed and documented in many books before Rees’ and I’ve read many of them, however this book really does present the reader with a ‘new history’ of Auschwitz. It shows the camp's beginnings and explains how it became the death camp it is infamous for being. By interviewing over 100 people, prisoners and soldiers alike, Rees gives a painfully clear account of how 1.1 million people came to be murdered and why people should always remember the how and why of these atrocities.

A Friend of the EarthA Friend of the Earth by T.C. Boyle
T. C. Boyle tells a chilling story of a possible near future where humans have almost completely destroyed the earth they live on. The main character, Tyrone O'Shaughnessy Tierwater, tells of how he started as a member of “Earth Forever!” an environment activist group and ended up taking care of some of the last remaining animals on earth. Boyle tells a compelling story of how idealism and conviction can still lead to devastation.

Among Other Things, I've Taken Up SmokingAmong Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking by Aoibheann Sweeney
“My purpose is to tell of bodies changed into different bodies,” a line that Miranda’s Father translates from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” describes this novel very well. The narrator, Miranda, tells not only of how bodies change but how people themselves change as she herself grows up. I liked this book because nothing was clear about anyone until the end and even then the reader is still left to fill in some blanks yet the descriptions and prose were clear and well written.

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Jennifer Stickles, Library Clerk, picked these books.

Mr. ThundermugMr. Thundermug by Cornelius Medvei
This whimsical novella tells the story of Mr. Thundermug; a baboon who is capable of speech. Medvei’s description is stunning and you will quickly find yourself immersed fully in his world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the consequences of Mr. Thundermug’s new ability. The question the book asks its reader is whether Mr. Thundermug is human because he can speak and therefore must be held to humanity’s standards or is he still just a baboon?

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee
by Sarah Silverman
This slightly unorganized raunchy memoir by comedian Sarah Silverman is not for everyone (if you’ve seen her show or stand up you’ll know why). Silverman has the same sense of humor as an eleven year old boy (poop, pee, anatomy etc) but with perhaps a few more four letter words thrown in. In “The Bedwetter” she discusses how she first learned that offensive can be funny (her father), her not so funny time on SNL, her bouts with depression as a teen and of course her bedwetting habits. If you have a few hours to kill and could use a good laugh then by all means curl up with Silverman and prepare to be offended.

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Dystopian novels are perhaps my favorite genre of fiction (not sure what that says about me or my faith in humanity). In Atwood’s version of dystopia man is faced with his own extinction by the infertility of women. In order to save civilization the government instead destroys humanity by forcing those few women who are still fertile into the beds of married men with one goal in mind, an heir. Offred, our protagonist, is such a woman. This bleak tale is dark and disturbing at times but there are glimpses of hope.

LolitaLolita by Vladimir Nabokov
There are so many words that can be used to describe this work; poetic, tragic, dark, beautiful, degrading, pornographic, genius, disturbing, classic etc. Humbert’s love for Lolita is an obsessive, destructive love, but love nonetheless. I wouldn’t call this a love story though, granted it is tragic enough to be one. I’m not sure how I would classify “Lolita” except as poetry, for surely every sentence Nabokov put on the page is a poem in itself.

My Life As a FakeMy Life as a Fake by Peter Carey
Sarah Wode-Douglas has been searching for an undiscovered genius poet, unfortunately the one she finds doesn’t exist…..or does he? Carey’s novel takes place in Kuala Lumpar and features a wealthy playboy poet, an editor of a British poetry journal, Christopher Chubb a possibly insane man hiding from his past and Bob McCorkle a man who exists in the mind of Chubb. The thing that draws me back to Carey’s work again and again is his way of describing each scene in vivid detail through sight, sound and smell.

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Lynne Palmiere, Library Clerk, picked these books.

Here If You Need MeHere If You Need Me: A Memoir by Kate Braestrup
Kate Braestrup lost her husband eleven years ago and decided to take on his life goal and become a Unitarian-Universalist Minister. This memoir discusses her time as the chaplain for the Maine Game Warden where she counseled families of missing persons.

The AfghanThe Afghan by Frederick Forsyth

American and British intelligence are aware of a terrorist attack about to be unleashed by al-Qaeda, unfortunately they don’t know when or where the strike will take place. To find out the important details they go undercover.

Lucia, LuciaLucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
Lucia Sartori lives in 1950’s Manhattan and is caught between being a career woman and following her Italian American tradition of becoming a wife and mother.


House RulesHouse Rules by Jodi Picoult
Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is obsessed with forensic analysis. He often shows up at crime scenes because of the police scanner he keeps in his bedroom. Life changes when a horrible crime happens and the police start to suspect Jacob.

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Allison Midgley, Technology Coordinator, picked these books.

AdditionAddition by Toni Jordan
Grace Vanderburg counts things. She sticks to her routines so that she feels safe. She’s devoted to the genius Nichola Tesla. She is a witty and intelligent 35-year old teacher, home on leave after a breakdown due to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the main character in this debut novel by Australian Toni Jordan. With clear language and likeable characters, the author uses vividness, poignancy and humor to show how much determination, honesty and courage it takes to really change - which is true for everyone, and especially true for people battling mental illnesses.

The Princess BrideThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
If you’ve seen the movie The Princess Bride, then you know this is a fun story with action, adventure, romance and witty dialogue. A beautiful princess, a devoted farm boy, an evil prince; Cliffs of Insanity, a Fireswamp, the Zoo o f Death; courage, ingenuity, and true love. The book, subtitled S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure, the "good parts" version, abridged by William Goldman, is an even more intricate and hilarious story within a story within a story. I recommend the most recent edition, in which Goldman blurs the lines between fiction and reality by updating his ongoing conflicts with the Morgenstern heirs, his travels to Florin, and his relationship with Stephen King. The novel is a brilliant satirical commentary on publishing, writing, and reading – and a joy to read.

La's Orchestra Saves the WorldLa’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
In the last few years several novels have told inspiring “human interest” stories set during World War II. Rather than focusing on the battles and fighting, these books tell the stories of those who “kept the home fires burning.” In this well-written novel, it is 1939. Lavender--La to her friends--decides to flee London, not only to avoid German bombs but also to escape the memories of her shattered marriage. She settles in a small town and organizes an amateur orchestra from the village and the local RAF base. As time passes, the orchestra reconnects her to other people and boosts her own morale and the morale of the town. Told as a recounted story, the novel has the wistful tone of things remembered.

This Is WaterThis Is Water by David Foster Wallace
When I saw this book on the shelf, I admit, I wanted to judge it by its cover: small, white and spare, with only a bright orange koi fish in the bottom right corner. Each page had only one sentence on it. I checked it out and started to read. I knew the author as a novelist of many words and complex sentences. Here, each sentence was conversational, powerful, and direct. The book contains the text of David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech given at Kenyon College in 2005. He speaks of trying to see the other person’s point of view and circumstance with compassion. He says, “It is unimaginably hard… to stay conscious and alive, day in and day out.” The speech is heartbreaking because, unable to realize this extremely difficult goal he set for himself, he committed suicide in 2008. Ultimately, the book is profound and inspiring and human.

Day the Fall Stood StillThe Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan
This novel is one for regional story lovers. Set in Niagara Falls at the turn of the century and through the story of Bess Heath, a privileged young woman whose world is turned upside-down when her father loses his job and his fortunes change, it deals with the conflicts between the natural and the mechanized world, the world of the practical versus the world of the heart, and the differences of wealth and poverty. The messages are a little heavy handed at times, but the details about domestic life and the nature in the gorge make it worth reading.

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Sarah Haggerty, Library Clerk, picked these books.

Prayer For Owen MeanyA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
As I began reading this book in my English class, I found it very difficult to become involved in it. However, after the preliminary chapters it quickly became one of my favorite books. A Prayer for Owen Meany tells the story of an oddly misshapen boy and his journey through a very peculiar life. Owen believes that he is the instrument of God and sees himself as a Christ figure. Through Owen’s grueling passage through a short, yet full life the reader learns many lessons about the power of faith, as well as their own powerlessness against it. I guarantee that you will find Owen’s tiny body and broken voice as irritating, yet simultaneously endearing as I did. The breadth and development of characters is vast and vivid. Irving is a master of his craft and definitely one of my favorite authors. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a gripping novel that touches the very core of humanity, while delving into the macabre and supernatural.

She's Come UndoneShe’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
I read this novel several years ago as a free read and am now revisiting it for my senior paper. This story has it all. It is vivid and disturbing, yet uplifting and motivating. She’s Come Undone tells the tale of Dolores, a girl whose life is measured by television. Her earliest memory is of two men delivering her family’s first television set, and from that moment on her life can be plotted along the changing times in TV. Dolores’ childhood is marred by a series of traumatic events that leave her fragile and incapable of facing the outside world. The novel tracks her fall into an isolated world of depression as well as her rise from the ashes into a much better life than she could have ever hoped for. Lamb’s novel is an inspiring testament to the strength of the human spirit. The reader leaves the story with a sense of power and potential accomplishment. It is a must read for all lovers of great literature.

PushPush by Sapphire
Warning: This book is not for the weak-hearted or queasy stomached! It is a gut-wrenching tale of the plight of the poor, of abuse, and of the horrors of the world. Clareece “Precious” Jones is morbidly obese, illiterate, abused, and pregnant with her second child by her father. Her situation is more than dire; it’s desperate. Kicked out of school, as well as her home she seeks refuge in a shelter and at the each-one-teach-one program. The story is written from Precious’ perspective which is reflected in her poor writing skills and knowledge of English mechanics. Though the novel is short, it delivers a sucker-punch straight to the gut. Push leaves a permanent impression on the reader, and creates the desire to help improve the situation of the under-privileged.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CaféFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
Fannie Flagg creates a charming, heart-warming tale of friendship and loyalty unlike any other cushioned in the frame of an unsatisfied housewife’s life. This book is jam packed with adventure, love, heartbreak and much, much more. With outlandish and loveable characters like Idgie and Ninny Threadgoode, a wild ride of plot twists within the separate stories, not to mention a delicious book of recipes at the end, Flagg has created an irresistibly delicious novel that is not to be missed.

Power of OneThe Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Power of One is a beautiful and moving tale of South Africa both prior to and during the Second World War. It takes place in a time of not only racial apartheid between Africans and Whites, but also between Whites of German descent and Whites of English descent. Racial dissention is at the very core of this novel. From a very young age the hero Peekay is raised mostly by his African nanny, but is abruptly shipped off to a boarding school where he is the only English White. Peekay is brutally teased by the other boys, but is far smarter than any of them will ever be. After his tenure at boarding school he is shipped away to live with his grandfather. On the train he meets his destiny and vows that one day he will be the welterweight champion of the world. Later in the book he meets Doc who becomes both his mentor and best friend. Throughout the course of the novel Peekay discovers that race has nothing to do with the quality of a person. Quality has everything to do with heart and how you reach out to others. Although this book is categorized as young adult fiction it is much more. This novel is for anyone who has ever felt a sense of destiny, a strong bond between themselves and another living being, and most importantly the feeling that the world can never be right until the people living in it are able to live in peace.

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Ursula Gray, Library Clerk, picked these books.

King of LiesThe King of Lies by John Hart
A year after his mother's death and father's strange disappearance, 'Work' Pickens is still reeling, and his law practice shows the effects of this. When his father's murdered body is discovered, 'Work' becomes a prime suspect and he must put all his energy and ingenuity into clearing his name while at the same time steering the authorities away from his sister, who he thinks is the true murderer.

I highly recommend this debut novel since it is a page turner from page one and encompasses mystery, family conflicts, romance and many surprising twists and turns. I also recommend John Hart's later novels, Last Child and Down River.

South of BroadSouth of Broad by Pat Conroy
The year is 1969 and Leo King's older brother has just committed suicide at the age of ten. As his family struggles to deal with this devastation, Leo becomes an isolated child until his Senior Year of High School when he becomes part of a small tightly knit group of friends who also have their own demons to deal with. This book follows these six friends from the 1960's into the 1980's. During these years they find success and failures while still remaining the closest of friends until one incident happens that threatens to break them apart.

Set in Charlestown, SC, the reader is also exposed to the unsettling racial conflicts of the South. Pat Conroy's novels have become some of my favorites because of how he can deal with human issues by using such feeling and compassion.

Girl With the Dragon TattooThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who recently found himself on the wrong end of a libel case, is hired by the eighty year old head of the Vanger family to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sister, Harriet Vanger, nearly forty years ago. Mikael hires Lisbeth Salander, a twenty-four, 'tattooed' computer hacker with a questionable background to assist him and here is where the fun begins. Together they delve into forty years of hidden secrets held by this wealthy family and in the process make discoveries about their own lives.

This book, the first in a three book series, has climbed to the top of my favorites list because it is so well written, has a great plot and character development, and is simply an enjoyment to read from the beginning.

Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
The massacre at Columbine High School and its horrors will be remembered for many years by all but especially by those who were actually present at the time. Maureen Quirk, a school nurse at Columbine, finds herself cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed when the shooting begins. This is the story of how the catastrophe changed the lives of Maureen and her husband Caelum. They moved east to CT in hopes of erasing the past and finding peace only to discover five generations of secrets held by the Quirk Family.

I really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it because it shows how skillfully the author deals with the characters and their struggles. It is a story of how a person's quest for faith and meaning can turn into a long journey.

The HelpThe Help by Kim Stockett
Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss in 1962 with a degree in journalism. Wanting to do more with her life than to have a ring on her finger, she gets a job at a local newspaper writing an advice column. This leads her to the idea of writing a book about the black maids and nannies in the community. She secretly begins by interviewing several black domestics. As her project progresses, she is met by resistance while uncovering many secrets of the black women during the Civil Right Movement.

I found this to be a deeply moving novel about hope and heartbreak. It was very sad to see how times actually were during this period in our history and how some of these attitudes toward blacks still exist today.

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Ann Giddings, Interloan Clerk, picked these books.

Have a Little FaithHave a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
One of my favorite books is Have a Little Faith, a True Story by Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie. The author is asked by his rabbi, in his hometown in New Jersey, to deliver his eulogy. Over the next year he visits his old rabbi and collects stories of his spiritual journey which includes many memories of his own past when his parents brought him to Sabbath services every week. The author also becomes involved with a Detroit pastor, a reformed drug dealer and convict, who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof.

The stories and wisdom of these two men, Christian and Jewish, African American and white, impoverished and well to do is fascinating. This beautifully written book shows two very different men whose faith is important to them and we see the author start his own journey exploring some of life’s great mysteries with honesty and self reflection.

OutliersOutliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I enjoyed this book for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey players are born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill and how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math. The author challenges the concept of the “self made man” by examining the lives of successful people, like Mozart and Bill Gates. He discovers that advantages and hard work and “just plain luck” help some people succeed while so many others never reach their potential. A very thought provoking book.

Same Kind of Different As MeSame Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Ron Hall is a wealthy international art dealer who travels the world selling rare and expensive works of art. When he reluctantly volunteers at a homeless shelter he meets Denver. Denver lives a very different life than Ron. He grew up as a sharecropper in Louisiana and has experienced violence and poverty. Watching these two men transform their lives as they become friends is fascinating and inspiring.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
I love history and this novel begins shortly after the end of World War II in London and on the island of Guernsey. Juliet is writing a book and moves to the island from London to research the people who survived the Nazi occupation just a few years before. As she writes, she becomes more and more intrigued with the stories of these country folk who survived hard times and had extraordinary experiences. The characters are warm hearted and their survival in desperate circumstances is amazing. The writing is very “British” and, at times, hysterically funny.

PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake
This beautifully written book is also about World War II. It follows the lives of three American women, a postmistress, a doctor’s wife and a female journalist reporting from London during the war. Once again, the history behind this novel and how the women’s lives are impacted is compelling. Frankie Bard, the journalist, is in London during the bombings, working with Edward R. Murrow during the Blitz. The description of men and women and babies in bomb shelters is frightening. Frankie returns to the States and travels to Cape Cod with an undelivered letter for one of the women.

Once again, I was captivated by the horror of war and marveled at the courage of the Londoners during the bombings. The author’s depiction of the radio broadcasts with Edward R. Murrow and Frankie are realistic and moving.


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Melody Fanton, Principal Clerk, picked these books.

The Egyptian by Mika WaltariThe Egyptian by Mark Waltari
When this novel was first published in 1949 it was condemned as obscene, yet it outsold every other novel published that year and is widely considered a classic. I am fascinated by all things Egyptian and this book transports the reader to Egypt of the 14th century B.C.E. It is narrated by Sinuhe, a man of humble background who becomes the personal physician to Pharoah Akhnaton.

Hands down, this is my favorite book to date. The reflective first person account is so beautifully written that the reader is easily transported to the time and place. The themes woven throughout of power, vengeance, race, war, death, love and redemption are universal.

Bones To AshesBones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
Forensic anthropologist Temperance “Tempe” Brennan is called in to examine the skeletal remains of a young girl discovered in Acadia, Canada. Tempe comes to suspect this skeleton may actually be that of her girlhood friend who went missing 30 years ago in the same vicinity. When her romantic interest and police investigator, Andrew Ryan, probes the unsolved deaths of three girls and the disappearance of four others, the possibility of a connection looms large.

This best-selling author has written a series of books based on Temperance Brennan. They are the basis for the TV series “Bones”. What kept me turning the pages was the great plot and character development.

River WifeRiver Wife by Jonis Agee
This family saga set in Missouri’s “boot heel” weaves itself back and forth from 1811 to the 1930s. Pinned in her bed by a felled tree in an earthquake, young Annie is left by her family to drown as the river rises around her bedroom. French fur trapper and river pirate Jacques Ducharme comes to her rescue and together they create a life at Jacques Landing. More than a century later a young bride will come to Jacques Landing and find her life in parallel to the old diaries she finds of Annie, the first river wife.

Underlying themes of love and heartbreak, passion and deceit run throughout the story as each river wife comes to discover that the truth from the past haunts the present. Historical detail and tense and dangerous plots held my interest all the way through.
I loved how the author wove this story back and forth from 1811 to 1930. This is a novel that strikes the right balance between light and dark, good and evil. If you’re a fan of historical fiction and a great cast of characters, this is as good as it gets.

The Alchemist's DaughterThe Alchemist’s Daughter by Katherine McMahon
This is the story of a young woman’s educational and social evolution during the English Age of Reason. Raised by her father in an isolated English country estate, Emilie Selden is trained in natural philosophy and alchemy and in 1725 they collaborate in an experiment to bring dead matter back to life. The experiment is interrupted when Emilie falls in love and is banished to London. Besides being a great story, this novel depicts the extremes of English culture and society. I really liked the heroine of the story and the fact that in the end, she strove to live life on her own terms.

Cold DishCold Dish by Craig Johnson
This title is the first in a series of mysteries centering around Walt Longmire, the veteran sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Set in modern days, the novel has shades of the Old West in both character and plot. When Cody, a young resident of the area, is found shot to death near the Cheyenne Reservation, it appears at first to be an accident. But when another young man is found dead with connections to Cody and the rape case of a young Indian girl two years earlier, revenge would appear to be the motive. The diverse cast of characters include Henry Standing Bear and deputy Victoria “Vic” Moretti. You will not soon forget the blizzard scene.
If this were to be made into a movie, they would surely cast Tom Selleck as Sheriff Walt Longmire. I really enjoyed the setting and character developments and the multilayered plot kept me guessing. The Western landscape and Native American aspects were well represented. There was a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout. I’ve read all but one in this series and have thoroughly enjoyed each one.

The Unequal HoursThe Unequal Hours by Linda Underhill
508.747 UND [Stacks]
Local author Linda Underhill has written a compact, poetic account of how the ordinary in nature can reveal the extraordinary. On the first page she quotes Virginia Woolf: “It is the job of the writer…to receive and to record these moments of being, to find the pattern of meaning in daily life.” These “moments of being” of which Ms. Underhill writes arise from our own Allegany County landscapes. This is beautiful and inspiring prose linking us to our very own natural world.
The Way of the Woods: Journeys Through American Forests is her newest book.

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Liz Buchholz picked these books.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
This Pulitzer Prize winning book about a small town in Maine reminded me of a certain small town in western New York. It centers around a local restaurant, managed by Miles Roby, which is frequented by a colorful cast of characters, including Miles’ rather eccentric father, his soon-to-be ex-wife and her health club-owner boyfriend.
Throughout the book we are given a back-story into the lives of these people. It is both touching and funny.

Bel CantoBel Canto by Ann Patchett
This book was recommended by one of our volunteers.
It takes place at the home of the vice president of a South American country, where a lavish party is being held to honor a powerful Japanese businessman. His favorite opera singer is brought in to entertain the many ambassadors and their wives. However, a band of terrorists breaks in and as their plan goes awry, they take the whole group hostage. From that point on the story takes completely unexpected twists and turns.
I was pleasantly surprised, since it was a different type of book than I normally would have chosen.

Lost SymbolLost Symbol by Dan Brown
Start this on a day when you have nothing else planned because you won’t want to put it down. Right from the beginning, when symbologist, Robert Langdon is brought to Washington D.C. under false pretenses, only to find out that his mentor, Peter Solomon has been kidnapped, the pace never lets up. I was fascinated to learn the origins of so many symbols and codes in our nation’s capitol.
What an unexpected ending!

The Dark TideThe Dark Tide by Andrew Gross
Police detective Ty Hauck is brought in to investigate the bombing of a commuter train at Grand Central Station. He discovers that Charles Friedman, a hedge-fund manager, who was “killed” by the bomb is not the man he appeared to be and that there is an odd connection to a hit-and-run accident Hauck is also working on.
A real page-turner.

The Concrete BlondeThe Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
I am choosing this book because it was my first “Harry Bosch” novel, and I have read every single one since, because he is such an interesting character. It’s best to read these in order since each one builds on something from the past.
In this book, Detective Harry Bosch is being sued for shooting the wrong man, who was believed to be a serial killer. When a new victim is found, it looks like the real murderer is still on the loose.
Lots of good courtroom and investigative drama.

Harry Bosch Series

The Black Echo (1992)
The Black Ice (1993)
The Concrete Blonde (1994)
The Last Coyote (1995)
Trunk Music (1997)
Angels Flight (1999)
A Darkness More Than Night (2001) – Read Blood Work* (1998) for the back story
City of Bones (2002)
Lost Light (2003)
The Narrows (2004) – Read The Poet* (1996) for the back story
The Closers (2005)
Echo Park (2006)
The Overlook (2007)
The Brass Verdict (2008)
Nine Dragons (2009)

*These are not Harry Bosch novels, but very important to the series.

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