Staff Picks

Gratitude

Summary: 
In the final publication by the prolific writer Dr Oliver Sacks, a series of four short essays entitled "Gratitude", he reflects on his life and work with touching candor. In these essays he openly addresses the end of life in a highly moving manner. To sum up this collection in his own words, he writes:"Above all, I am a sentient being, a thinking animal on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." With such a point of view, nothing more needs to be said, does it?

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Making Rounds with Oscar

Summary: 
What if you were able to predict the exact time a patient in a nursing home was going to die? Suppose that individual were a domestic cat? This book tells the story of an ordinary cat in a nursing home in Rhode Island with an extraordinary gift. Told through the eyes of an initially very skeptical doctor, David Dosa interviews and describes the experiences of numerous family members who had a visit from Oscar, the nursing home cat, just as their loved one was getting ready to pass away. With uncanny accuracy, Oscar has been able to be at the patient's side and provide loving comfort through this inevitable and final rite of passage. Written in very simple language, this easy read is at once a very touching and remarkable non-fiction tale.

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Through the Woods

Summary: 
A gorgeously illustrated collection of folklore and fairy tales, "Through the Woods" is a colorful graphic novel masterpiece on par with Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories work. All five stories center around the mystery and fear that allures people in and out of the woods. The illustrations are eerie and bold, and have a very Gothic feel to them. Carroll's work of horror is the perfect thing to keep you up at night!

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Prophecy: An Elizabethan Thriller

Summary: 
It is 1583, the year of the Great Conjunction, the year the powerful planets of Saturn and Jupiter align to herald the end of one age and the dawn of another, and the streets of London are abuzz with predictions of Queen Elizabeth’s death. S.J. Parris continues the exploits of Giordiano Bruno, who leads a double life as philosopher at the French Embassy in London and spy for Sir Frances Walsingham. When one of the queen’s ladies is found dead amidst rumors of black magic, Elizabeth, through Sir Francis Walsingham, her spymaster and Secretary of State calls upon Giordano Bruno to solve the crimes, along with the help of her personal astrologer, John Dee. However Dee turns to a mysterious medium claiming knowledge of the murders, who Bruno fears is a fraud and has sinister motives. S.J. Parris weaves a marvelous plot, with numerous twists and turns, keeping the reader in the dark until the very end. Bruno comes close to death on several occasions, before the full extent of the Catholic plot-- to remove Elizabeth from the throne and replace her with a monarch that favors Rome-- is revealed.

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The Forgetting Time

Summary: 
Just whipped through this riveting page-turner on recommendation of a co-worker! Though a work of fiction, this book is built on actual research of very young children who appear to have lived another life. Interwoven is not just the memories of these children, but also the memories and their impact on the other characters in the story and what they are experiencing in their lives as well. "The Forgetting Time" is a mix of what we forget and what we remember brilliantly crafted by the author in her debut novel. You can't help but feel the emotions of everyone involved. It would also appeal to someone who loves mysteries as long as you can accept those that go unsolved.

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The Muralist

Summary: 
If you enjoyed reading "The Art Forger". you will most likely appreciate B.A. Shapiro's new novel called "The Muralist". The story moves through time between NYC in the 1940's and the present day. Alizee Benoit is an artist in the dawning era of American Abstract Expressionism. She is also of European Jewish ancestry and desperately trying to get visas for her relatives who are seeking asylum in the United States. The main character in the present day is Alizee's great-niece Danielle, who is trying to piece together the mysterious circumstances surrounding Alizee's sudden disappearance in the '40's. This historical novel is a gripping thriller,seamlessly weaving together the subjects of 20th century art and politics and a very well-written and moving tale as well.

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The Kill Artist

Summary: 
This novel, first in the Gabriel Allon series, is a fast-paced, anti-terrorist, political story of the Middle East in the 1990s. Daniel Silva paints an absorbing portrait of a reluctant hero’s attempt to thwart an old enemy to preserve a precarious peace. After the assassination of his wife and son, Gabriel Allon retires from his brutal anti-terrorist career and loses himself in his previous cover job: art restoration. But when Tariq al-Hourani, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for his family’s death, begins a killing spree designed to destroy Middle East peace talks, Gabriel once again is drawn into the shadowy world of international intrigue. In this game of hide-and-seek, the motives of Gabriel and Tariq soon become more personal than political. There are so many twists and turns in this book, it is hard to keep up. It is a great read for those who enjoy this genre. I am ready for the next in the series!!

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Between the World and Me

Summary: 
One hardly needs me to recommend a National Book Award winner, but I can't get this book out of my head. The economical (176 pages) work of non-fiction is a letter from Coates to his teenage son about what it means to be black in America today. Covering American history, current events, and the author's personal narrative, the word in my head is "important." This is such an important book at this time, in this country. It can be shocking and demoralizing, but also hopeful. Consider listening to the audiobook. Coates performs his own narration and his voice lends even more to the powerfulness and beauty of the text.

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Heresy

Summary: 
Set in 1583 against a backdrop of religious-political intrigue and barbaric judicial reprisals, Parris's compelling debut novel centers on real-life Giordano Bruno, a former Italian monk excommunicated by the Roman Catholic church and hunted across Europe by the Inquisition for his belief in an infinite universe. Befriended by the charismatic English courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney, the ambitious Bruno flees to more tolerant Protestant England, where Elizabeth I's secretary of state, Sir Francis Walsingham, recruits him to spy, under the cover of philosophical disputation, on secretly Catholic Oxford scholars suspected of plotting treason. As one Oxford fellow after another falls to gruesome homicide, Bruno struggles to unravel Oxford's tangled loyalties, his mission is dramatically thrown off course by these grisly deaths and the charms of a mysterious but beautiful young woman. He realizes that somewhere within Oxford’s private chambers lurks a brutal killer. Parris (the pseudonym of British journalist Stephanie Merritt) interweaves historical fact with psychological insight as Bruno, a humanist dangerously ahead of his time, begins his quest to light the fire of enlightenment in Europe. A fantastic read and beautifully written.

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Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Summary: 
A remarkable debut starring food and family, both biological and chosen, this novel is an homage to and satire of foodie culture and a reversal of predictable relationships. Eva Thorvald is the connecting character in chapters mostly about others, and their impact on her life is both subtle and transformative—lots of laughter paired with genuine emotion. Very satisfying.

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