Staff Picks

Conspiracy

Summary: 
The 5th in the Giordano Bruno series has the most complicated plot yet. Paris, 1585 is a city on the edge of catastrophe: Henri III, a king without an heir, lives in fear of a coup from the Duke of Guise and the Catholic League. His mother Catherine de Medici and her harem of spies are watching over his shoulder. Bruno has been forced to leave London. Unable to find refuge and a source of income, alone and near destitute in Paris, he turns to old friend and zealous preacher, Paul Lefevre. But when the priest is murdered, Bruno is pulled into a dangerous world. If Bruno can't uncover the truth, not only is the future of the de Valois monarchy threatened - but his own life will be the forfeit. S.J Parris (Stephanie Merritt) somehow weaves a plot of such complexity that just sucks you in until the very last pages. A terrific read-- I just hope this isn't the last in the Bruno series.

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The Girl in Green

Summary: 
Miller brings the same keen wit, intelligence, empathy and profound wisdom to all involved in Iraq and Syria as in Europe in Norwegian by Night. Pvt. Arwood Hobbes and photojournalist Benton and UN worker Marta all suffer for their actions and inactions, but persevere with their eyes wide open. A timely, illuminating thriller. And laugh-out-loud funny at times.

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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

Summary: 
In this gripping and deeply personal memoir, Park takes us along on her incredibly dangerous journey to escape brutal dictatorship in her native North Korea.

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Imperium

Summary: 
In this first book of a trilogy about the life of the Roman Senator Marcus Cicero. Robert Harris recreates the vanished biography written by his household slave and right-hand man, Tiro, narrating Cicero’s extraordinary struggle to attain supreme power in Rome. Tiro opens the door to a desperate Sicilian aristocrat, Verres, who was first robbed by the corrupt Roman governor, who is now trying to convict him under false pretenses and sentence him to a violent death. Verres believes only the great senator Marcus Cicero, one of Rome’s most ambitious lawyers and spellbinding orators, can bring him justice in a crooked society manipulated by the villainous governor. But for Cicero, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of absolute power. Thus begins one of the most gripping courtroom dramas in history, and the beginning of a quest for political glory by a man who fought his way to the top using only his voice—defeating the most daunting figures in Roman history. I am ready for the next books in the series!

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Commonwealth

Summary: 
When Bert Cousins arrives at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited and impulsively kisses Franny's beautiful mother, he sets in motion a series of events which will forever change the lives of six children and four parents. Thus begins Ann Patchett's latest novel about families and the complex relationships involved, spanning a period of five decades. Set in California and Virginia, the author vividly paints a picture of the lives of two families, depicting them through lively dialogue, characterization and description. Touching on the themes of love and the loss of love between siblings and parents, Patchett's heartfelt work is storytelling at its best.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Summary: 
Furiously Happy is, at its core, a book about mental illness, anxiety, and depression, but it is also about embracing those not so nice aspects of our lives and finding joy. Lawson uses her frankness and humor about her own mental illness and daily struggles to remind her readers how beautifully flawed we all are, and we don't have to be ashamed of it. A wonderfully hilarious and inspiring read.

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What's Brewing in New England: A Guide to Brewpubs and Craft Breweries

Summary: 
Kate Cone has written an excellent book for those of us who delight in the craft industry and enjoy visiting the breweries and tasting the vast variety of beers that they produce. It is a fine resource for not only the different beers, but also the pub food on offer by the majority of these breweries. We are very lucky in to have such a resource for New England.

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Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage

Summary: 
This is a fascinating book about how one man, who almost singlehandedly kept England's Catholic enemies at bay! Sir Francis Walsingham, principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I, a pious, tight-lipped Puritan was England’s first spymaster. A ruthless, fiercely loyal civil servant, Walsingham worked brilliantly behind the scenes to foil Elizabeth’s rival Mary Queen of Scots and outwit Catholic Spain and France, which had arrayed their forces behind her. This unlikely man, always dressed in black was an incongruous figure in Elizabeth’s worldly court, managed to win the trust of key players like William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester before launching his own secret campaign against the queen’s enemies. Covert operations were Walsingham’s genius; he pioneered techniques for exploiting double agents, spreading disinformation, and deciphering codes with the latest code-breaking science that remain staples of international espionage. A herculean task for just one man, who was ultimately successful. I loved this book!!

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How the Irish Saved Civilization

Summary: 
In this light-hearted but interesting book, Thomas Cahill tells the story of how Europe evolved from the classical age of Rome to the medieval era. He attempts to make the case that without Ireland, this transition would not have taken place-- mostly thanks to one monk, Patrick. He maintains that Patrick, and the Irish monks and scribes gathered around him, preserved the very record of Western civilization -- copying manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, both pagan and Christian, while libraries and learning on the continent were forever lost. It is not clear, however, how Patrick and his fellow monks acquired these books and manuscripts in the first place. I enjoyed this book, though the author does tend to ramble off the point at times. Mr. Cahill does indeed demonstrate that the Irish did reintroduce culture and religion back into medieval pagan Europe as clearly shown by the vast number of monasteries founded by Irish monks, across England and across Europe to Italy.

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Faithful

Summary: 
New York Times' best-selling author Alice Hoffman's latest novel is a touchingly heartbreaking tale. It tells the story of Shelby Richmond, a young woman who has been in a car accident which leaves her feeling isolated and self-destructive. She then moves from her hometown on Long Island to New York City, where she begins to meet the people who will help her to regain her self-esteem and confidence, and heal her wounded spirit. Shelby gets a job in a pet store and winds up adopting three dogs, as well as having an affair with a man who is a veterinarian. In addition to the friends she meets at work, there is an angel watching over her who leaves her postcards with illustrations and encouraging words. At once down-to-earth but also magical, this novel tells a beautiful story about a young woman's journey as she regains her ability to feel hope and love.

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