Staff Picks - 2011 July

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Staff Picks July 2011 (1MB)
White ShotgunWhite Shotgun by April Smith

Special Agent Ana Grey is on leave from the FBI when she's asked to befriend (spy on) an unknown half-sister whose husband is suspected of having underworld contacts in Siena, Italy, where they live. Complications ensue. An engrossing and well-written mystery. Smith's best in years. ~ Sarah Knight

On leave in London, the intense, indefatigable Grey witnesses a drive-by shooting that leads her to Siena, Italy. A fast-paced, colorful summer read that includes exciting scenes during the Palio, the traditional violent horse race among rival sections of Siena, run on the main plaza since the 17th century. ~ Louise Jones
Cricket Radio: Tuning In The Night-singing InsectsCricket Radio: Tuning In The Night-singing Insects by John Himmelman

Are you enchanted by the chirping outside on a summer night? This engaging book by an entomologist and life-long cricket and katydid enthusiast will amuse and inform, and might even encourage you to search fields, forests and swamps for these well-camouflaged creatures. ~ Louise Jones
Thoughts Without CigarettesThoughts Without Cigarettes by Oscar Hijuelos

The Pulitzer winner recalls his difficult childhood in a beautifully evoked Manhattan Cuban immigrant community. An indifferent student, he eventually studied writing, which he feels saved him from a troubled adulthood. The book ends with the publication of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. ~ Louise Jones
The Greater Journey: Americans In ParisThe Greater Journey: Americans In Paris by David McCullough

America's great storyteller holds the reader's attention all the way. A bit like first rate time travel to a fascinating place in the company of some extremely interesting Americans. Lavish illustrations. ~ Bill Lewis
At Elizabeth David's TableAt Elizabeth David's Table by Elizabeth David

David introduced French and Mediterranean cooking to Britain after WWII, and here are many of her simple, extraordinary recipes, beautifully illustrated as her original books never were. A real treat. ~ Louise Jones
Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary MusicElectric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music by Rob Young

One of the best music books of the year! Young sifts through myths and magick to explain why British folk rock--from John Barleycorn to Pink Floyd--still has plenty to tell us today. ~ Charles Bottomley
A Geek In JapanA Geek In Japan by Michael Collins

Murder mystery, academic foolery, spoof of the publishing world combine in a literary work that blends complex characters and a puzzling plot. ~ Louise Jones
  Lives Like Loaded GunsLives Like Loaded Guns by Lyndall Gordon

Gordon's engaging portrait of Emily Dickinson and her family will completely redefine the way modern readers engage with and relate to her poetry. Brilliantly entertaining and illuminating, Dickinson's passion, literary and otherwise, is made manifest in this stunning biography. ~ Cheryl Cornwell
Green Is The New RedGreen Is The New Red by Will Potter

Potter looks at the roots of the environmental and animal rights movements to understand why the FBI labels them the number one terror threat in the nation, while actual violent groups are not. ~ Krysta Piccoli
Old JulesOld Jules by Mari Sandoz

In this biography of her father, who came to the US from Switzerland in the late 19th century, Sandoz describes the incredibly tough life of the settlers in the mountain west. Sandoz was a splendid historian of that area, and this was her finest book. ~ Louise Jones
The White NileThe White Nile and The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead The Blue Nile

In the mid 19th century a handful of European (mainly British) adventurers searched for, and eventually found, the headwaters of the Nile. While squabbling among themselves, they traveled individually through impenetrable jungle, encountering massacres, slave wars and treachery. This is followed by The Blue Nile. Two marvelous books! ~ Louise Jones
JULY 29 2011 7PM

Turn of MindTurn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Beautifully written, moving, complex, this first novel is about a brilliant surgeon, Jennifer White, who is developing Azheimer's Disease. LaPlante takes us into her mind with enormous understanding and subtlety, without patronizing her or the other fully realized characters. A marvelous book ~ Louise Jones
JULY 9 2011 7PM

The Talk-Funny GirlThe Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo

Language, both spoken and silent, is at the core of this amazing story about a young girl trying to find a way through the maze of pain and ignorance that defines her childhood. Set along the Vermont/New Hampshire border, the novel raises questions about nature versus nurture and the definition of a personal God, while sweeping the helpless reader into the lives of these characters. I could not stop reading it. ~ Karen Frank
JULY 21 2011 7PM

Everything Beautiful Began AfterEverything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

Lyrical prose. Rich slices of intimate narrative. Astonishing, original metaphor. If Raymond Chandler swapped gin for chamomile tea and devoted himself to stories of love, he might have written this splendid debut. The romantic novel just got fresh literary legs. ~ Emilia B.
Bright's PassageBright's Passage by Josh Ritter

The acclaimed songwriter's first novel follows a young WWI veteran, his infant son, and a guardian angel of debatable reliability. Struggling to provide for his baby, Henry Bright must escape a forest fire while eluding the insane pursuit of the Colonel, his recently dead wife's father. Ritter's wonderfully imagined characters.... ~ Stan Hynds
The HypnotistThe Hypnotist by Lars Kepler

In Sweden a family is brutally murdered, only the son surviving - with 100 knife wounds. Detective Inspector Joona Linna seeks the help of a retired hypnotist, who sees what the boy saw, beginning a series of terrifying events. ~ Sarah Knight
The Soldier's WifeThe Soldier's Wife by Margaret LeRoy

A charming and poignant historical novel set on the Isle of Guernsey during the WWII German occupation. Not only is there a wonderful sense of place, but the characters are diverse and believable. The story has more depth than I first thought due to some unexpected and subtle plot twists. ~ Karen Frank
TrespasserTrespasser by Paul Doiron

Mike Bowditch, the troubled Maine game warden in Doiron's compelling The Poacher's Son, returns in this atmospheric, fast-paced literary mystery. A puzzling car accident leads to an investigation of an old crime, putting Mike's job in jeopardy. ~ Louise Jones
Open CityOpen City by Teju Cole

Looking for a great novel about New York that you haven't read before? This acclaimed debut views the metropolis through the eyes of a Nigerian psychiatrist whose wanderings take him to the twin hearts of our violent past and a hopeful, better future. ~ Charles Bottomley
The Blind Contessa's New MachineThe Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace

Delightfully old fashioned and historical with dark and passionate tones, this novel captured my day. The story is alive with lemon blossoms and water as the emotions of the characters seep into the mind. ~ Karen Frank
The Silent GirlThe Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

A severed hand and a primate hair found in Boston's Chinatown initiates an investigation leading back to a nineteen year-old mass murder in a local Chinese restaurant. Wuxia (martial arts) and the Monkey King are also involved in this entertaining Rizzoli and Isles mystery. ~ Sarah Knight
The Last WerewolfThe Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Would it be inappropriate to suggest that a werewolf, if so inclined, can get a lot of tail? Appropriate or not, it is certainly true of Jake, the title character in this enjoyable blend of horror and sex. His numerous romantic conquests help to offset the downside of his transformations into a ravaging beast,.... ~ Alden Graves
There Is No YearThere Is No Year by Blake Butler

Delightfully old fashioned and historical with dark and passionate tones, this novel captured my day. The story is alive with lemon blossoms and water as the emotions of the characters seep into the mind. ~ Karen Frank
Ten Thousand SaintsTen Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson

A very different kind of family saga - with lost Vermont boys and Gotham girls looking to belong amid the 1980s punk hardcore scene. The debut of an important new voice. ~ Charles Bottomley
36 Arguments For The Existence Of God36 Arguments For The Existence Of God by Rebecca Goldstein

Who says Yanks can't write philosophical novels? The pro- and anti- sides are woven into a deft campus comedy, complete with celebrity atheist, his Amazonian ex, a messiah and one of the great academic ogres in recent fiction. Simply brilliant!! ~ Charles Bottomley