Staff Picks

Wolf Hall

Summary: 
This novel gives a wonderful insight into the life and times of Tudor England in the 1530s. Henry VIII has no male heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. He fails. And suffers...... Thomas Cromwell, takes advantage of this downfall, and through his ruthless ambition, becomes one of the most powerful men at court. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages, set in an atmosphere of fear, conspiracies and political intrigues. A challenge to read, but well worth the effort.

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The Eagle Has Landed

Summary: 
I read this a classic World War II action adventure as a teenager and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have now reread this book and loved just as much. In November of 1943, an elite team of Nazi paratroopers descends on British soil with a diabolical goal: to abduct Winston Churchill and cripple the Allied war effort. The mission, ordered by Hitler himself and planned by Heinrich Himmler, is led by ace agent Kurt Steiner and aided on the ground by IRA gunman Liam Devlin. Escapism at its best. I plan to read the next in this series!

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Field of Swords

Summary: 
In the third book of the Emperor series, Conn Iggulden continues the life of Julius Caesar. Having proved his valor in the slaves’ revolt, the time has come for Caesar to enter the political battleground of Rome, supported by the love of Servilia and the sword of his loyal friend, Marcus Brutus, He the establishes his reputation, first in Spain, then against the armies of the wilderness of Gaul, and across the English Channel, and to the wilds of tribal Britain and forges his legend with an army made in his own image. However, his political adversaries in Rome are growing ever more powerful, so that when the fighting in Gaul and Britain is over, he will face the greatest threat to him yet—a man, Pompey, who wants Rome for himself. Brilliant......

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Emperor: The Death of Kings

Summary: 
This second book in the epic saga of Julius Caesar's life begins with him in North Africa being captured by pirates for ransom. Caesar exacts his revenge and begins to build a legend far from Rome. Meanwhile, his friend Marcus Brutus is rising to power in the wake of the assassination of a dictator. They are brought together by Spartacus, a gladiator leading a slave revolt who is building an army of seventy thousand slaves, to battle Rome itself. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, particularly the writing. Although the plot events do not entirely follow the documented facts (which the author concedes) I can forgive, because I am totally captured by the story. I am already reading the next book in the series!!

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The Story of Arthur Truluv

Summary: 
This moving tale tells the story of three lonely souls: Arthur, Lucille and Maddy; who find comfort and compassion in a relationship with one another. Arthur is an elderly man who faithfully visits his wife Nola at the cemetery every day. Lucille is an older woman who gets together with her high school sweetheart, only to suddenly lose him to a heart attack. And Maddy is a pregnant eighteen-year old who insists on keeping her child, despite her father's wishes. Beautifully written, this novel depicts the importance of developing close friendships, finding happiness, and ultimately, the healing power of love, at any age.

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The Defector

Summary: 
This, the 9th in the Gabriel Allon series, begins six months after the dramatic conclusion of Moscow Rules, Gabriel has returned to Italy to resume his honeymoon with his new wife, Chiara, and to restore a seventeenth-century altarpiece for the Vatican. However, his life is turned into turmoil by the disappearance of the defector and former Russian intelligence officer Grigori Bulganov. The spy, who saved Gabriel's life in Moscow, has vanished without a trace. British intelligence considers him a double agent all, but Gabriel is not so sure. He also knows he made a promise to Grigori .....that he wouldn't end up in an unmarked grave. Daniel Silva weaves a great plot that you can't put down. A fine page turner!!

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Drink with the Devil

Summary: 
A fortune in stolen British gold lies shipwrecked at the bottom of the Irish Sea. And history's deadliest treasure hunt is on. Irish militant Michael Ryan wants to finance war in his homeland--and a sinister pact with the New York Mafia will make his dreams a savage reality. Former IRA enforcer Sean Dillon now works for the British government. His mission: retrieve the gold by any means necessary--and finish Ryan's bloody plot before it gets off the ground. Two deadly men are locked in a furious race, with millions of dollars--and lives--hanging in the balance... A wonderful story-line that Jack Higgins weaves, a great action-packed story, featuring not only Sean Dillion, but also Liam Devlin, another of his great Irish characters. I had not read a Jack Higgins adventure in many decades and was not disappointed with my return. Plan to reread many more.

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The Book of Lost Fragrances : a novel of suspense

Summary: 
This earlier novel by M.J. Rose (published in 2013) features Jac L'Etoile and her brother Robbie. It takes place in Paris, in the present day; as well as in ancient Egypt in Cleopatra's time, and during 1780's revolutionary France. The narrative weaves around some ancient pottery shards which still contain a scent which for some people can trigger past life memories. Jac's brother and her lover Griffin North are attempting to decipher the hieroglyphics on the ancient vessel, and Robbie is determined to give the shards to the Dalai Lama when he visits Paris. However, some members of the Chinese mafia also want the pottery, since China is attempting to repress the idea of reincarnation, in particular the location of the young man who is to succeed the Dalai Lama as Tibet's new leader. Combining history, passion and suspense, this novel is a wonder-filled and entertaining read you will not be able to put down.

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Emperor: The Gates of Rome

Summary: 
Fantastic book. Highly recommend as a introduction to the early life of Gaius Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus! Great historical fiction as details of their early lives are not well documented. The author has made great use of what has been documented and woven a great tale.

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My Cat Yugoslavia

Summary: 
This surreal, astonishing novel, translated from the Finnish, has dual narrators: Kosovar Albanian Emine, married at 14 to a brutal abusive husband who describes her marriage and life as a refugee to a small Finnish town with her 5 children; and her younger son Bekim, gay, tormented, and deranged by the the migrant experience trying to find love and meaning. Snakes and cats are both characters and symbols. “There was war, and war was a row of tornadoes tearing up the ground one after the other, and war was a set of tidal waves swallowing up buildings, villages, towns, a tsunami of water kneading them into a paste before finally spitting them out.” p. 193

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