Staff Picks 2015 April

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Staff Picks April 2015 (2MB)
The Harder They ComeThe Harder They Come by T. Coraghessan Boyle. Boyle's latest takes place in the woods of Northern California. A small group of people trying to deal with their own issues find themselves connected to each other through the mental illness and destructiveness of one of them. The writing is vivid, clear, and concise and the story is character driven and very satisfying. ~ Liz Barnum
So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. The author of The Psychopath Test is back with an even scarier subject: enduring humiliation at the hands of the online horde. A compulsively readable look at how ruining your life--and sometimes even getting it back--is just a tweet away. ~ Charles Bottomley
What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths by Bob Wyatt. Wyatt challenges a century's worth of fishing convention, presenting evidence that trout are not the suspicious creatures they've been made out to be. Trout don't have the ability to learn and reason, and are governed instead by instinct. Accordingly, different fly design and better presentation will yield better results. A revolutionary approach to fly fishing. ~ Nate George
Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad by Eric Foner. New York City was a destination point for many blacks escaping from slavery in the decades leading up to the Civil War. This is the story of the area's underground railroad, manned by people who, by refusing to abide by a grossly unjust law, put their own lives in peril. Accessible, meticulously researched history that is, sadly, still topical. ~ Alden Graves
I Think You're Totally Wrong by David Shields & Caleb Powell. Two writers hole up for days to ostensibly talk around the fascinating theme of Life vs. Art, which they do eloquently, but they also ooze into the personal, which makes it a riveting read. ~ Reviewed by Carol Graser
Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear. At 92, in his own clear voice, Lear is with-it and funny as he tells his rags-to-riches story, always crediting his talented colleagues for their contributions to his successs. Beyond his charm, the inside scoop and evolution of the great, radical TV shows of the 60s is fascinating. I'm in love! ~ Heather Bellanca
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud. This powerful graphic novel deserves a place between Persepolis and Habibi. A frustrated young sculptor is granted the ability to realize his artistic visions, but at a terrible price. McCloud's brilliant, touching illustrations and deft way with a character make this a triumph of the highest order. ~ Charles Bottomley
The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present by Douglas Coupland. Everyone can agree that they've grown a little too attached to their electronic devices. Douglas Coupland and his friends have taken a magnifying glass to popular culture and created a uniquely bizarre look at our tech-addled lives. This is a scattershot bludgeoning of quotes, quips, and non sequiturs. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. You haven't read Outliers yet? Unimaginable. Gladwell offers brilliantly researched insights into everything from the roots of Bill Gates' megasuccess to the unexpected cultural explanations for airplane crashes and the role that birthdate plays in a hockey player's rise to the top. Gladwell's surprising, yet supremely logical, findings are enlightening, possibly life changing. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
Whiplash DVD & Blu-ray. J. K. Simmons delivers a bone-wrenching performance in this movie about the volatile relationship between a music teacher and the young drummer in whom he senses a potential for greatness. Fiercely intelligent filmmaking that mercilessly details the almost superhuman physical and emotional toll of being the best.

Into The Wooods DVD & Blu-ray. Meryl Streep is delightful in this lavish adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's most popular musical. If the work is a little less enchanting than it was on stage, it still boasts a brilliant score. The DVD and Blu ray editions include a new song, "She'll Be Back," written especially for Streep to sing in the movie.~ Alden Graves

Early Warning by Jane Smiley. This second book in a trilogy follows the Langdons through the 1960s and 70s. Ms. Smiley touches upon some of the most traumatic events of those tumultuous years, reminding us in the process of how our own lives are molded and shaped by forces that are often far beyond our control. ~ Alden Graves
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen. A story of three privileged friends who travel to Scotland from America, in search of the Loch Ness monster during World War II. With so many secrets revealed among the unique backdrop of Scotland during wartime, I hung onto every word. A highly recommended new novel by the author of Water for Elephants. ~ Jessica Elder
The Devil's Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth. A gritty, disturbing, and raw murder mystery set against the backdrop of a Hell so brutal that even Hieronymous Bosch would be unnerved. This is an amazing first novel that grabs the reader from the first page. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Donner
House Made of Dawn by Natachee Scott Momaday. Episodic story about a young Native American who has trouble assimilating himself into a racially divided society after his service in World War II. The novel is the literary equivalent of one of John Ford’s Monument Valley films, summoning up the beauty, grandeur, and harshness of an unspoiled landscape in prose that will take your breath away. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
The Jazz Palace by Mary Morris. Step back into the past, walk Chicago's South Side, hear the piano and brass making sounds never heard in the North before. In this rich novel of interweaving plots, follow two families through hard years, stark realities, death, and the birth of a new world. Lay on some Armstrong and settle in for a great read! ~ Reviewed by Leah Moore
Asylum by Jeannette De Beauvoir. The brutally murdered bodies of four women are found posed on park benches in Montreal. Fearing a public relations disaster for the tourist season the mayor's PR director is asked to work with a young detective. They begin to suspect the women are linked to a cover up by the Roman Catholic Church which dates back to the 1950s. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Knight
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer. A compassionate doctor, his agitated wife, and their four children deal with old grudges, lost opportunities, and festering jealousies. Spanning 30 years and told from each character's point of view, your heart will ache as the family as a whole reaches for happiness. ~ Reviewed by Jess Hanlon

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Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. In his dedication to help the underprivileged, a young social worker in Montana finds a meaning and purpose for his own disjointed life. An unwavering look at the dark underside of American life that subtly transforms the reader from a state of comfortable detachment to one of painful awareness. An impressive debut novel. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
The Plover by Brian Doyle. What an adventure! This amazing personal quest makes for a delightful read, not only for the actual sea journey across the Pacific, but for the fascinating trip through the minds and personal relationships of the characters. I've never read anything quite like it and found it remarkable and enlightening as well as enjoyable. ~ Reviewed by Karen Frank
Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer by Una Lamarche. An ode to every person who has been through an awkward phase in childhood, adolescence, or even adulthood. So, basically, everyone! This book is laugh out loud funny! ~ Reviewed by Jessica Elder