Staff Picks - 2013 February

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Staff Picks February 2013 (1.2MB)
Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer
I am sure I would have fallen head over heels for the fantastic Ms. Frances, the title character in this exceptional epistolary novel. (Sadly, she would have been quite out of my league.) My unfamiliarity the real-life characters, the writers Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell, on which this amazing novel is based, in no way diminishes my great admiration and complete enjoyment of it. The writing is nothing short of extraordinary. ~ Stan Hynds

For more about the "real" Frances, read Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch


The Dangerous Animals ClubThe Dangerous Animals Club by Stephen Tobolowsky. The character actor you've seen in everything weaves a memoir from his life both on and off the set. Filled with hilarity, balanced with insight. A must-read for all actors, a great read for everyone else. ~ Stan Hynds The Hour of PerilThe Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower. The last city on Lincoln's 1,900-mile journey to Washington after his 1861 election was Baltimore, a hotbed of secessionist fervor. Here is a tense, day-by-day examination of an elaborate plot to assassinate the president-elect. ~ Alden Graves Calling Dr. LauraCalling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges. A palm reader's predictions lead to a mess of troubles in zinester and pet portrait artist Georges's thoroughly charming memoir. Her naive illustrations can be deceptive - this quirky comic packs one helluva wallop. ~ Charles Bottomley
Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division by Peter Hook. Joy Division's career ended abruptly with singer Ian Curtis's suicide, but the band is as influential as The Beatles or Nirvana. Bass player Hook reveals this dour group actually lived a booze-sodden life of calamity closer to Spinal Tap than Sartre. A wonderful rock memoir! ~ Charles Bottomley Monty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and AnnotatedMonty Python's Flying Circus: Complete and Annotated by Luke Dempsey. Six pounds of Pythony greatness! A must for die-hard fans and a perfect way to introduce the troupe to the uninitiated. ~ Sarah Teunissen QuietQuiet by Susan Cain. A wonderfully important book, which may help us survive and thrive. Clear, readable, combining emerging science and sociological perspective as well as deep empathy and intelligence. Readers will feel empowered to find their own comfort level for living. ~ Karen Frank
Little WolvesLittle Wolves by Thomas Maltman. The humdrum existence in a small Minnesota town is shattered when a teenager brutally murders a deputy sheriff. Lyrically written, with an unfolding folk tale woven into the narrative - a strikingly original novel that will sweep over you like a winter wind off the prairie. ~ Alden Graves Cold DaysCold Days by Jim Butcher. It's well and truly hit the fan for Harry this time. The world is coming to an end in 24 hours, he's become Queen Mab's whipping boy and he needs to explain to his friends why he isn't dead. Another winner in the Dresden Files. ~ Sarah Teunissen The TellThe Tell by Hester Kaplan. Owen and Mira stumble through their days until Wilton Deere, a wealthy ex-TV personality, inserts himself into their marriage, showering them with gifts and seducing Mira into the nether world of gambling addiction. A fascinating study of relationship - what is known, what we allow others to see. ~ Amy Palmer
The Last RunawayThe Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Despite thousands of stories about those involved with the Underground Railroad, this novel adds an extra dash of personality as we follow a young Englishwoman transplanted to the American Midwest in the 19th century. Chevalier masters the art of infusing history with humanity and soul. ~ Karen Frank Tenth of December: StoriesTenth of December: Stories by George Saunders. These stories are beautiful and awful. They are mind-freaking. How have I not read George Saunders until now? This is the best collection of short stories I have read in years. ~ Stan Hynds Contents May Have ShiftedContents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston. Whether riding a recalcitrant camel in Tunisia, performing CPR on a seizing sled dog or viewing a sky burial in Tibet, Houston's acute observations of life are part spiritual quest, part healing - always depicted with humor and insight! ~ Amy Palmer
The Golden CalfThe Golden Calf by Helene Thursten. Swedish detective Inspector Irene Huss returns in a case involving the murders of three men in an upscale Goteborg neighborhood. The only link is a dot-com superstar, the wife of one of the victims, who refuses to cooperate. Well-written, very entertaining police procedural. ~ Sarah Knight A Teaspoon of Earth and SeaA Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri. A stunning literary debut set in post- Revolutionary Iran as one young woman tries to cope with the mystery of her missing mother and twin sister. The author's Iranian heritage brings insight to the new and old Iran ~ Jess Krawczyk All This Talk of LoveAll This Talk of Love by Chris Castellani. Castellani's best yet, an instantly engaging, authentic story about a multigenerational Italian-American family planning a trip to their ancestral village. Love, resentment, deception and tenderness - all the complexities of a family in love and in conflict - are handled with beauty, precision and assurance. ~ Stan Hynds
Woman on the Edge of TimeWoman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. One of my all-time favorites! An epic battle for justice as one woman communicates with the year 2137 while fighting to maintain her sanity. The future? A choice between a utopian society or an Atwood-esque dystopian nightmare. The ending? Unforgettable. ~ Jess Krawczyk Earthly PowersEarthly Powers by Anthony Burgess. There's a lot more to Burgess than A Clockwork Orange. This bustling novel, taking in the whole 20th century, brims with intoxicating language and sparkling ideas - the kind of literary feast they just don't serve up any more. ~ Charles Bottomley BlueBlue by Pat Grant. Like a briny tidal pool, Grant's seaside coming-of-age story teams with odd creatures, animal emotions and childlike wonder. Its marvelous artwork and enticing depths should be navigated again and again. Too early to be one of the best books of the year? I think not. ~ Charles Bottomley
Walking Sticks An assortment of beautiful, lightweight, sturdy, handcarved walking sticks. Absolutely beautiful craftsmanship! Lion, dragon, horse and more. ~ Jess Krawczyk