Staff Picks - 2011 February

Staff Picks February 2011
The February 2011 Staff Picks can also be viewed or printed as a PDF
Staff Picks February 2011 (412KB)
February FEATURE
Old FilthOld Filth by Jane Gardam

Our favorite! The life of Barrister Edward Feathers, nicknamed Old Filth (definition on page 1) is a pleasure to read – a complex, absorbing, intelligent, droll novel. ~ Louise Jones

Get out your "Whigs"! This is a beautiful happy/sad tale full of personality and humanity. Funny and desperate at times, it is also life affirming and smart. I loved it! ~ Karen Frank
Frozen AssetsFrozen Assets by Quentin Bates

Bates, a Brit who's lived in Iceland, sets his atmospheric thriller just before the 2008 banking collapse. No-nonsense cop Gunna Gisladottir realizes that several murders — rare in her small country — are linked to financial and political intrigue. First-rate first of a new series ~ Louise Jones
The Matchmaker of KenmareThe Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney

In this novel, Mr. Delaney builds on our love of his historical fiction about Ireland and teases us further into the Irish-American experience at the end of WWII. The complex character of Ben MacCarthy from Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show engages the friendship of a young village matchmaker and their stories begin to intertwine,... ~ Karen Frank
Shadow TagShadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

Shadow Tag tells the brutal, tragic, and compelling story of destructive marital love. Day by day the artist husband and writer wife slowly twist into a vortex where one consumes the other. Erdrich has again taken a complex and very dark theme, writing so that the sharp edges are so much easier to bare, the story lines remarkably vivid and radiant. ~ Nancy Scheemaker
The October KillingsThe October Killings by Wessel Ebersohn

Set in South Africa. Abigail Bakula, a prominent lawyer, receives a visit from a man who fifteen years ago saved her life during a raid in which her father and others were massacred. The men who participated in the raid have been systematically murdered yearly on the anniversary of the raid... ~ Sarah Knight
Red JadeRed Jade by Henry Chang

Third in the Detective Jack Yu series, Red Jade, is set in gritty underbelly of New York and Seattle's Chinatowns. As Yu investigates a murder/suicide he discovers connections to a previous unsolved triad murder. Yu's nemesis,the elusive Mona, also returns in this very entertaining noir mystery ~ Sarah Knight
Union AtlanticUnion Atlantic by Adam Haslett

Haslett's previous book, Pulitzer Prize-finalist You Are Not a Stranger Here, ranks with the works of Tobias Wolff and Jhumpa Lahiri for my favorite short story collections. Union Atlantic, Haslett's first novel, is set in the Boston area in 2002 and brilliantly foretells our current financial crisis while intertwining the lives of some of the most interesting characters I have read recently. ~ Stan Hynds
The Devotion of Suspect XThe Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

A subtle exploration into a puzzling murder, this duel of wits between an enigmatic suspect and his former academic colleague is by one of Japan's most popular and esteemed writers. ~ Louise Jones
AnnabelAnnabel by Kathleen Winter

This stunning debut novel treats the issue of a true mixed gender child as its core, but the author delves into so much more. The delicate and poignant detail of the lives of her characters reveal a philosophy and a humanity which is bone deep and envelops the reader, not only with compassion and hope, but recognition and truth about ourselves. ~ Karen Frank
The Big SleepThe Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The peerless private eye novel, despite its contemporary political incorrectness. Although the classic movie ($19.98 dvd) replicates many of the scenes and dialogue exactly, the book's complicated plot differs — just read the splendid first paragraph: Bogart never wore a powder blue suit! ~ Louise Jones
Stories of Breece D'J PancakeStories of D'J Pancake by Breece Pancake

One of America's best writers of short fiction, Pancake taps into the suspense of everyday life. "Fox Hunters" and James Alan McPherson's touching forward are alone worth the price, but each of these twelve tales is essential. Savor them; they constitute the entirety of his output. ~ Emilia B.
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
Radio Shangri-LaRadio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli

Napoli took time off from her job at NPR to help the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan set up a radio station. This touching memoir is full of moving and humorous people and situations as Napoli navigates a total cultural divide and a personal turning point ~ Louise Jones
Keep The ChangeKeep The Change by Steve Dublanica

Most people have worked for tips at some point and know the importance of a "good" tip, but depending on your profession the amount varies. Dublanica interviews waitstaff, strippers, car wash attendants and a host of others to find out what is considered a decent tip. The answers will surprise you. ~ Sarah Teunissen
LinchpinLinchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

A great, passionate exhortation about how and why to excel at work — no matter what you do. It is about making your work also your art. Highly recommended. ~ Chris Morrow
Inventing George WashingtonInventing George Washington by Edward G. Lengel

The next time you hear a politician, media talking head, or religious spokesperson quote Washington or describe something he did: be skeptical. Better yet, consult this little book to learn from a distinguished scholar the ways in which Americans have had a field day in distorting the truth for over two centuries...and why it will continue. ~ Bill Lewis
Our Man In TehranOur Man In Tehran by Robert Wright

The 1979-81 Iran hostage crisis through the eyes of Canadian Ambassador Kenneth Taylor, who protected six Americans not at the embassy the day of the takeover. Outstanding historical and political analysis wrapped in a dangerous exploit, based on recently declassified documents and interviews. ~ Louise Jones
Year of Our LordYear of Our Lord by T. R. Pearson

T. R. Pearson's new book focuses on a young man named Lucas McCarty whose life, according to Pearson, is "often difficult, always determined" because he has cerebral palsy. Now in his early twenties, Lucas spent the first part of his life as an Episcopalian. Dissatisfied with the tame nature of that brand of worship he became involved with an African-American congregation in Moorhead, Mississippi called the Trinity House of Prayer Holiness Church where he was embraced without so much as a raised eyebrow... ~ Stan Hynds
The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family CookbookThe America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen

From Christopher Kimball's popular PBS television cooking show, this book lightens more than 800 favorite dishes without sacrificing flavor. Profusely illustrated with pictures, graphs and informative sidebars. Excellent ~ Louise Jones
American RoseAmerican Rose by Karen Abbott

Gypsy Rose Lee shed a lot more than her clothes in her rise from playing second banana to her younger sister, June, on the vaudeville circuit to status as an international celebrity. American Rose is something more than just another rags to riches show biz story. It relates the personal triumph of a timid and painfully self-conscious young woman... ~ Alden Graves
The Last EmpressThe Last Empress by Hannah Pakula

Educated in the US, Soong Mei-ling, daughter of a wealthy and powerful Chinese banking family, wife of General Chiang Kai-shek, influenced American Chinese political and cultural policy for decades. An engaging, thoroughly researched book about a brilliant and determined woman. ~ Louise Jones
Red BrethrenRed Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America by David J. Silverman

Brilliantly written study of several groups of Northeastern Indians who did everything they were asked but still were relentlessly driven from every place they settled. A sobering explanation of why there are Pequots, Narragansetts, Oneidas, and other former neighbors of our New England ancestors living in Wisconsin. A memorable read. ~ Bill Lewis
The Worst Hard TimeThe Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath described the settlers of the "dust bowl" who left. This is the heroic story of those who remained. A beautifully written and intensely researched book about the settlement and disaster of America's high plains. ~ Louise Jones
Ways of SeeingWays of Seeing by John Berger

One of the best introductions to appreciating and looking at art that I've ever read. Trips to the museum will never be the same. ~ Charles Bottomley