Staff Picks - 2010 February

Staff Picks February 2010
The February 2010 Staff Picks can also be viewed or printed as a PDF
Staff Picks February 2010(2.49MB)
FEBRUARY FEATURE
Northern ClemencyNorthern Clemency  by Phillip Hensher.

An entertaining and thoughtful character novel set in England's industrial midlands and London. Families intertwine and the flavor of the steel and the mines seeps into the story, lending a vague darkness to both the characters and the action without relying on contrived thrills. ~ Karen Frank

This is a wonderful novel about family, with colorful characters and the story is compelling even in its ordinariness. A great book to spend a day with! ~ Liz Barnum
N O N F I C T O N
NEW
Ten Hills FarmTen Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North by C. S. Manegold. The settlers arrived in New England with their optimism, insatiable lust for land and racism intact. A great part of their prosperity was directly or indirectly tied to slavery. A beautifully written, elegantly conceived introduction to a largely unknown story. ~ Bill Lewis BirthrightBirthright: The True Story of the Kidnapping of Jemmy Annesley by A. Roger Ekirch. Abandoned by his father, kidnapped by his uncle and sent to Delaware as an indentured servant in 1728, Annesley returned to England and sued for his inheritance. An intriguing and well-written tale that inspired R.L. Stevenson's Kidnapped. ~ Louise Jones A Jury of Her PeersA Jury of Her Peers by Elaine Showalter. An indispensable volume placing the contributions of American women writers, from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx, in their rightful contexts. Historians, feminists, teachers, bibliophiles and the merely curious will find many happy hours between the covers of this vital book. ~ Nancy Scheemaker
Sweet ThunderSweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson by Wil Haygood. Almost a cultural essay about being famous, black and dominant in mid-20th century America. Ali thought Robinson was "The Greatest". Haygood's chapter on Robinson's six fights with Jake La Motta will stop the reader cold. ~ Bill Lewis SultanaSultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History by Alan Huffman. A group of Union soldiers survived the unimaginable horrors of prison camps only to endure a more terrible ordeal. The boiler explosions on the Sultana resulted in a greater loss of life than on the Titanic. ~ Alden Graves Our Life in GardensOur Life in Gardens by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrod. The delightful story of the creation of North Hill, the authors' outstanding gardens in southern Vermont. No matter how much or how little you know about horticulture, you will be inspired by this book - and learn a lot, too. ~ Louise Jones
Flight From MonticelloFlight From Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War by Michael Kranish. Before Thomas Jefferson became famous he nearly became infamous when, as Virginia Governor, he and his state legislature fled a British invasion near the end of the war. This dramatic work is a major contribution to understanding Jefferson just a bit better. First rate. ~ Bill Lewis

O L D F A V O R I T E S
Hope Is the Thing with FeathersHope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds by Christopher Cokinos. A beautifully written elegy to recently vanished bird species. Cokinos gets the reader as close as possible to the last individual representative of each extinct species. A gem of nature writing, first published in 2000. ~ Stan Hynds SaratogaSaratoga: The Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War by Richard Ketchum. Arguably the most important military battle in American history and this is the finest account. To understand the meaning of the Revolution, in its best sense, simply read the last page. Ketchum's finest work. ~ Bill Lewis
F I C T I O N
N E W H A R D C O V E R
Union AtlanticUnion Atlantic by Adam Haslett. Haslett's first novel is set in Boston in 2002, brilliantly foretells our current financial crisis, intertwining the lives of some of the most interesting characters I have read recently. His short story collection, You Are Not A Stranger Here, was a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist. ~ Stan Hynds The PrivilegesThe Privileges by Jonathan Dee. In this shrewd, intelligent and witty novel, the arrogance of wealth and privilege leads to risk and corruption and gradually destroys relationships. A subtle look at love and greed in a morally questionable society. ~ Louise Jones Deep CreekDeep Creek by Dana Hand. An engrossing adventure novel based on the true account of the 1887 massacre of thirty Chinese gold miners in Idaho. Written with great insight into the mindless racial prejudice that infiltrated every pore of society. A splendid read! ~ Louise Jones
The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake. World War II, a small Cape Cod town, three very different women, love, fate, chance meetings are the ingredients that make this a book to savor! It is a deeply emotional story that you will not want to put down. ~ Liz Barnum The Midnight HouseThe Midnight House by Alex Berenson. CIA agent John Wells must find out who is murdering members of a disbanded secret interrogation (torture) team who worked in Poland. An entertaining read for fans of Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn. ~ Sarah Knight O L D
F A V O R I T E S
The Crystal CaveThe Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. Stewart's wonderful Arthurian trilogy has been unavailable for years and now - finally - a new edition! The author based her novels on historical as well as legendary evidence for Merlin and the Arthurian myth. The other two books are The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment. Fantastic! ~ Karen Frank
N E W P A P E R B A C K
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. This is a darkly comic and twisted mystery with a unique protagonist, an eleven year old girl with a penchant for poison. I like to think of it as a cozy mystery from the bizarro world. Highly recommended. ~ Erik Barnum The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Intelligent and well researched, this novel was a hardcover bestseller. It combines the interesting history of Vlad The Impaler (Dracula) with a little mystery, a dash of vampires and a touch of romance. ~ Cynthia Richards Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. A beautiful and romantic book. Jane is strong and independent, but also tender, loving and secretly vulnerable. Her love for Rochester is heart-breaking and hopeful at the same time. An unforgettable, wonderful read. ~ Krysta Piccoli
Shanghai GirlsShanghai Girls by Lisa See. A powerful story about culture and adaptation through the lives of two wealthy sisters who travel from decadent late 1930's Shanghai to the life of struggling immigrants in Los Angeles. Also recommended is See's On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese American Family ($15.95). ~ Sarah Knight The Long FallThe Long Fall: The First Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley. Mosley sets his new series in New York City, featuring a tough former boxer, now a private detective. With complex characters, a sinuous plot and evocative locations - all you expect from Mosely. ~ Louise Jones DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker. This book is brilliant! It's terrifying and beautiful, and the characters are intelligent, well developed and easy to get attached to. Even though you may already know the story, Stoker will keep you desperately turning pages. ~ Krysta Piccoli
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