Staff Picks

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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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Summary: 
When a mysterious illness leaves the author bedbound, a well-meaning friend brings her a snail in a pot of wild violets. Thus begins a remarkable relationship, healing caregiving, awakened curiosity, a wealth of scholarship, and the satisfying work of observation and reflection. An enlightening meditation. “Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten. But the snail… the snail kept my spirit from evaporating. Between the two of us, we were a society all our own….” p. 132

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The Rules of Magic

Summary: 
Alice Hoffman's latest novel is a prequel to her bestseller "Practical Magic". It tells the story of three siblings with magical powers growing up in New York City at the cusp of the 1960's. They are members of the Owens family whose history dates back to the 1600's. There is Franny, the eldest, with blood-red hair; shy and beautiful Jet, who can read people's thoughts; and the youngest, Vincent, a handsome and charismatic musical wizard. During one summer the three siblings journey to a small town in Massachusetts to visit their aunt Isabelle. There they learn more about their secret family history from this wise older woman. This book is a story about the power of love, and a reminder of the importance of being true to yourself.

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Do Not Say that We Have Nothing

Summary: 
A remarkable novel about recent Chinese history, the endurance of music and story, encapsulated in the life journeys of linked families. A composer, a classical pianist, and a poet whose work is making copies, and then adding to an epic _The Book of Records_ find variant ways to survive China's serial revolutions. A Canadian born Chinese mathematician, Marie, tries to piece it all together. Gorgeous writing.

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Version Control: A Novel

Summary: 
Time travel, autonomous cars, and the rise of Big Data are some of the ideas explored in this near-future novel that reads more like contemporary literature than a science fiction novel. Rebecca Wright is the wife of a physicist who is working on a "Causality Violation Device" (not a time machine!). She can't shake the feeling that something is off in her world. It feels like something has changed, but she doesn't know what.

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Before Everything

Summary: 
In the last month of Anna’s lengthy terminal illness her friends and family gather and distill the essence of shared life and loss in its beauty, messiness, triumphs and struggle. In brief vignettes ranging over a lifetime, a picture emerges of the tangential community a person creates -- and then carries forward into the future. Poetic and humorous, sad and uplifting.

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