Staff Picks

Obama: An Intimate Portrait

Summary: 
This awesome New York Times bestseller is a collection of photographs and stories which document the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. This beautiful book contains over 300 images which cover such events as President Obama and his advisers in the Situation Room during the bin Laden mission, to interactions with world leaders, as well as moments dancing with his wife Michelle and playing in the snow with his daughters Malia and Sasha. These images "reveal the spirit of the extraordinary man who became our president" and is a treasured record of contemporary American history.

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Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens

Summary: 
If you love Eddie Izzard, you must read this memoir. Even if you don't, you should still read it. It is written with love, candor and insight. I learned much about Eddie, his early life, his struggles with the death of his mother, when only 6; his struggle with his sexuality; and finally his lifelong struggle to become one of the great comedians/actors of the present day. A talented marathon runner and activist are among his other achievements. A 'spiritual atheist'....His take home message at the conclusion of this book is......"treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself. If we did this, the whole world would work instantaneously." A noble idea. I never did find out what a Jazz Chicken is though, but never mind!!. LOL.

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Pachinko

Summary: 
Pachinko Min Jin Lee An epic saga of a family of Koreans under Japanese occupation, and then as aliens in Japan, spanning 1910 till 1989. Each generation tries to craft a strategy that will make the transition to full citizenship of some country somewhere, but then is left adrift in a kind of exile. A fascinating and heartbreaking portrait of day-to-day life and survival. “‘We can be deported. We have no motherland. Life is full of things he cannot control so he must adapt. My boy has to survive.’” p. 395

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The Widows of Malabar Hill

Summary: 
Perveen, a young Parsi woman in 1920’s Bombay is the city’s first female solicitor, and her legal practice will be the basis of the mystery series that this novel launches. Achieving that status as well as solving her first murder case form a dual narrative that is intriguing and thought-provoking.

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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

Summary: 
A Battle of Britain comedy of manners with a mostly female cast, many of whom slot neatly into village types with a rather reassuring predictability, whips up a comforting nostalgic confection. From the village map on the end-papers to the Dickensian surnames to the night-time prowls sussing out the truth, this epistolary romp is much more than brain-candy.

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Touch the Devil

Summary: 
Liam Devlin returns in a Cold War adventure that pits two IRA veterans against a terrorist-for-hire Frank Barry, who has been wreaking havoc in Germany and France, with backing from the KGB. His next mission might be his deadliest, as Barry plans to steal a state-of-the-art missile and sell it to the highest bidder. Retired IRA gunman Liam Devlin and his ally Martin Brosnan, directed by a British black ops unit, are the only men that can prevent the missile from falling into the wrong hands. But first Devlin must stage a thrilling jailbreak to free Brosnan before the men set off on a gripping race against the clock to eliminate Barry and his reign of terror. Like the first Liam Devlin book this is a fast-paced thriller, with any number of twists and turns in the plot. The final twist is the most jaw dropping!! On to the next one...

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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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