Staff Picks 2015 June

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Staff Picks June 2015 (1.8MB)
The UnfortunatesThe Unfortunates by Sophie McManus. This first (I find it very hard to believe) novel is about a year in the life of three members of a socially prominent family - matriarch, adult son, and his wife. Money, class, and madness, yes, and prose so good I shook my head in wonder. If you are the type of reader who underlines good sentences, forget it. There's not enough lead in your pencil. The Unfortunates is a sensation. ~ Stan Hynds
Empire of Deception: The Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation by Dean Jobb. Child is a master of the psychological thasdfriller. With the suicide of a brilliant scientist and the discovery of a secret room filled with bizarre machinery, Professor Jeremy Logan, "enigmologist," is called on to uncover who is behind a plot to revive a long forgotten and dangerous research project. A tightly composed thriller of scientific research gone awry. ~ Alden Graves
Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock's Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear) by Jon Fine. You've never heard of any of Jon Fine's bands (Bitch Magnet, anyone?), but that doesn't stop his memoir from being an essential book on making rock music. Fine has smelt the funk of a tour van that hasn't been cleaned in months, and his story will resonate with anybody who has ever learned more than one guitar chord. Highly recommended! ~ Charles Bottomley
Pedro by Pedro Martainez. There is much to love and hate about the iconic pitcher "Pedro." He was one of the most effective pitchers in the history of the game and was known for his unstoppable drive and often abrasive arrogance. With confidence and honesty, he lays all his cards on the table for both fans and detractors. ~ Jonathan Fine
Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman by Robert L. O'Connell. Approaching Sherman from three different angles, O'Connell has written a biography that reveals the complexities of the General, as not only a commander but as a civilian and family man. Fast moving and absorbing. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Donner
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham. You don't have to have read James Joyce's Ulysses to enjoy this true-life literary thriller. A gripping ride from the novel's genesis to its outright banning, it provides a fascinating portrait of the scandalous book, its rebellious author and-most surprisingly-the unlikely women who midwifed a masterpiece. ~ Charles Bottomley
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide. Hiraide reflects on his year of living in a small guest house on the grounds of an aged Japanese estate. Writing in the spare elegant prose of a polished poet, this is a muse on life, art, time, and nature enhanced by his friendship with an independent feline visitor affectionately named Chibi. A soothing and lovely read. ~ Nancy Scheemaker
Two of the country's most notable historians, who also happen to be two of our favorite authors, have new books. Both men are recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

Joseph J. Ellis' The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 is the story of four men - George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison - who were determined to preserve the bond that existed between the thirteen states during the Revolutionary War. This the author's ninth consecutive book about the American Revolution and, as Publishers Weekly stated in its review, "Few can tell a historical tale as well as Ellis can."

Wilbur and Orville Wright are the subjects of David McCullough's new book about a pair of bicycle mechanics from Ohio who changed the world. The Wright Brothers puts human faces on the two men, whose personal stories have remained as misty as the morning in 1903 when they flew the first heavier-than-air plane on North Carolina's Outer Banks. According to The New York Times, "The Wright Brothers soars."

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Haruf's last book is the haunting story of two elderly people, Louis and Addie, who live in a small western town. When they agree to share the same bed every night, they must cope with the town's reaction and pressure from Addie's family to end the relationship. This story will linger with you. ~ Erik Barnum
The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian. The fourth installment in the author's popular Murder Squad thrillers. London is terrorized by a series of gruesome homicides committed by an elusive figure dubbed the Harvest Man. To further complicate matters, Jack the Ripper is on the prowl again. Vastly entertaining for readers not deterred by vivid descriptions of the darker side of life. ~ Alden Graves
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. A magical book with a fairytale quality about a circus boat in a watery world where only the elite live on islands. This is a story that will captivate you. ~ Reviewed by Jess Elder
The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows. A comprehensive work that highlights the dynamics of Europe from the neolithic into the middle ages. Through accessible and authoritative prose, Cunliffe explains how European history has been heavily influenced by the oceans and seas that surround it. Numerous maps, charts and photographs further illustrate his thesis. ~ Reviewed by Barbara Morrow
Dinner with Buddha by Roland Merullo. The journey continues, taking Otto and Rinpoche on another road trip. Both physical and spiritual discovery drive the story, but the real meat of this novel is an understated series of lessons for living, dying, and making sense of the world. The reader is invited to experience the comfort of self knowledge and hope. ~ Reviewed by Karen Frank
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. An absolutely wonderful faerie tale, in the tradition of Grimm and Wynne Jones. Every year one girl from the village is given to the Dragon, but this year he has met his match in Agnieszka. Overflowing with myth and folklore, magic and heroism, this is a story to be cherished. ~ Reviewed by Becky Doherty
Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread by Chuckk Palahniuk. This career-spanning work has some of the Fight Club author's strongest writing ever. Short fiction has always been his strength and his readings of them are the thing of legends. Even if you're a lapsed fan, be sure to pick this up. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll
The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. Six girls, adopted as babies, are each given a clue to their heritage when the man who raised them dies. This first book follows the story of oldest daughter to Brazil. Detailed and atmospheric, there is just the right amount of mystery, romance, and history to keep both historical fiction fans and romance readers happy. ~ Reviewed by Jennifer Canfield
The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard. The story unfolds through the eyes of a hard-knocks kid with little imagination and even less education. The result is a Holocaust novel with no introspection, simply an account of events as they happened. You know how it will end, but the author keeps the reader firmly in the moment every heartbreaking step of the way. ~ Reviewed by Jennifer Armstrong
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. The third and final book in the All Souls Trilogy. Diana and Matthew return to the present and reunite with many of the characters from the first book. The fullness of the characters in these novels is outstanding, as is the magical world they live in. A wonderful ending to a much loved trilogy. ~ Reviewed by Becky Doherty
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A child actress witnesses the onstage death of a actor. Fast forward fifteen years after a devastating pandemic and she's part of a traveling Shakespeare troupe performing for survivors. A beautifully written tale. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Knight
Neverhome by Laird Hunt. A soldier struggles to get back home during the Civil War. This book gives a harrowing look into the repercussions of war and how the line between soldier and citizen is, more often than not, non-existent. A striking read that is simply jaw-dropping to the very end. ~ Reviewed by Jess Hanlon
A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller. After Vicky poses nude for her atelier she returns to England disgraced. Her family tries to marry her off, but she dreams of attending art school. Vicky joins the suffragette movement and finds an outlet for her artistic visions. You’ll fall in love with this sassy, brave heroine. ~ Reviewed by Martha Cornwell
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I could not get enough of this historical novel about early abolitionists and feminists Sarah and Angelina Grimke! This is a fast-paced read that is sure to pique your interest in these infamous sisters and will entertain you as they fight against Southern etiquette and customs, creating scandals and changing history ~ Reviewed by Jess Hanlon