Staff Picks

All Together Now

Summary: 
How do quirky people with nothing else in common come together to make music? And how can music bring a depressed community back to life? Gill Hornby's collection of characters make a predictable chorus much more; spot-on writing captures the timbre of now; and a light-hearted read touches a deep chord. "...realise that the trapped and scrunched and narrow little lives are often, from the inside, just the best."

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Maisie Dobbs

Summary: 
Another staffer introduced me to this Mystery series and I love it! I am a lover of historical fiction as well, so having this story set in and around World War l is an added feature for me. Maisie Dobbs is an independent, cerebral, yet spiritual young woman who puts psychology, investigative tools and much inner thought to work solving cases. Before taking each case, Maisie explains to the client her philosophy in solving a case to a satisfactory conclusion which may mean something uncomfortable needing to be said to the client. If they agree, she begins her investigation. Maisie is a wonderful character, the mysteries well-written and developed. The reader is drawn into the time and place with the author's interwoven descriptions.

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The Martian

Summary: 
The Martian was recommended to me and it sounded okay, but the story of an astronaut left behind on Mars and having to fend for himself is really "not my thing." Finally, so many people suggested I read it that I decided to give the audiobook a shot on a long car trip and found it completely absorbing. Now I can't stop recommending it to everyone who asks me for a good book. The narrator inhabits the main character Mark Watney with all the fear, boredom, desperation, humor and ingenuity one might expect from a man abandoned on a distant planet. The book came out in 2011, but has recently regained popularity with a movie starring Matt Damon due in theaters soon.

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Circling the Sun

Summary: 
In this many-layered novel,strong writing beautifully evokes East Africa in the early 20th century and brings to life a rich and inspiring tale of Beryl Markham, one of the most controversial and accomplished women of her time. The powerful African landscape, with vivid descriptions that compel you to re-read them, as well as the political and social history of the period, illuminate the narrative. While Beryl's transition from training horses for wealthy British expats to flying airplanes against the back-drop of her mostly unhappy personal life is central to the story, those chapters detailing her early years and non-traditional upbringing close to the land are the most memorable.

The Weaver's Inheritance

Summary: 
Set in 1476, in the turbulent times that were the 'War of the Roses', Roger the Chapman (peddlar) is looking forward to spending Christmas in Bristol. As well as a peddlar, he is somewhat of a sleuth. Margaret, his matchmaking mother-in-law, has barely introduced him to her cousin Adela when Roger's attentions are demanded elsewhere. He gets involved in the return of long-lost son of a wealthy Bristol weaver, presumed murdered on a visit to London six years before who has miraculously reappeared, to the delight of the old man and to the indignation of his daughter,Alison Burnett. She refuses to believe that the bedraggled stranger is her brother Clement. She hires Roger to prove that the long lost 'brother' is indeed an imposter. The author 'weaves' an interesting plot involving 2 murders that ends with unexpected finale. Another interesting and enjoyable aspect of this tale is the royal intrigues that are going on in the background between the brothers York, King Edward, Richard and George, Duke of Clarence. A thoroughly entertaining read.

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Language Arts

Summary: 
This novel revolves around Charles Marlow, a 50-something divorced man living in Seattle who has an autistic son. His former wife is a fiercely protective woman who has tried many methods of treatment for their boy Cody. The story also goes back in time to Charles'childhood,specifically his fourth-grade class and his friendship with a classmate who was labelled "retarded". This book is a beautifully written, compassionate tale with colorful descriptions, well-developed characters, and lively dialogue.

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A Slant of Light

Summary: 
Jeffrey Lent writes dark historical novels. This novel takes place after the Civil War in Upstate New York. The book begins with a murder scene. A Civil War veteran murders his wife and her lover. He also injures an employee. The remainder of the book develops the facts leading to the murder. There's also a side story about a farmer who helps out the employee injured in the veteran's rampage. I enjoy reading Lent's novels because he is very descriptive in his settings. He presents the reader with a true sense of the scenes. I usually am disappointed with the endings of Lent's novels. I was disappointed with the ending of this book. Lent never provides the perfect endings. I usually find myself asking more questions about the characters than receiving answers. Lent shows that life never provides the perfect endings.

The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag

Summary: 
Flavia de Luce does it again!! The very smart 11 year old, chemistry wizz, with a penchant for poisons, solves 2 murders. She thinks that her days of crime-solving in Bishop’s Lacey are over—until a puppeteer Rupert Porson gets electricuted during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk!! This for me was a much more enjoyable book than the first, though I enjoyed that immensely. The plot was almost secondary to the main character of Flavia. She is a treat!

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Summary: 
This well-read version of the companion book to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry gives voice to its inspiration, the dying woman, who has a tale to tell, forgiveness to seek, and a quiet life. Her memories, her fellow hospice patients, and the hidden connections with passersby reveal life thrumming in the depths of stillness. For a "hospice novel" this is surprisingly upbeat.

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Crooked Heart

Summary: 
“Blinking little walking dictionary” orphan Noel Bostock is evacuated from London’s blitz and lodged with incompetent scammer Vee and her layabout dreamer son Donald. Noel puts his mind to survival, and makes himself indispensible. A richly enjoyable tale of ingenuity, pluck, and resilience. And funny too!

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