Staff Picks 2015 May

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Staff Picks May 2015 (1.8MB)
Early WarningEarly 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
The Forgotten Room by Lincoln Child. Child is a master of the psychological thriller. 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. ~ Jennifer Canfield
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. This is the first in a new series from Maas, author of The Throne of Glass series. It's a wonderfully lush and evocative novel about the Fae. When nineteen-year-old huntress and mortal inadvertently kills one of the immortal High Fae, she is thrown into another world that she must learn to navigate in order to survive. Highly recommended! ~ Becky Doherty
Poison by Sarah Pinborough. Are you sick and tired of books that end in "happily-ever-after"? Does the concept of true love make you slightly ill? Then this diabolical version of Snow White is going to make your day.! ~ Sarah Donner
Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell. This continuation of Russell's equally enjoyable Doc about Doc Holliday chronicles the gunfight at the OK Corral and the events that led up to it. The author's ability to create a fully realized sense of place is extraordinary and she fills her landscapes with finely etched characters. Even the most casual reader will find themselves absorbed within just a few pages. ~ Reviewed by Erik Barnum
Beneath the Bonfire: Stories by Nickolas Butler. With the same warmth readers loved in Shotgun Lovesongs, Butler tells stories of deeply personal struggles and the role of nature in each character's life. The sense of place is breathtaking. Travelling the back roads cross country, visiting their fields and lakes, I might have met any of them. I adored this entire collection. ~ Amelia Stymacks
Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry. Set in the seamier areas of 1895 Manhattan and sketched in vibrant prose, this wondrous debut novel gets its title from the Church of Marvels, a Coney Island sideshow. Its destruction by fire altered the lives of two sisters whose mother perished in the blaze. Parry choreographs her flamboyant characters into a dance impossible to resist, while mysteries and miracles abound. ~ Erik Barnum
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. This harrowing story of POWs working on Japan's notorious Burma Death Road railway is an epic made up of a thousand intimate moments. At the depth of history's darkest episode, Flanagan has found a fascinating, complex hero. One of the most powerful novels I've read this year. Breathtaking. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The long awaited third novel from Donna Tartt was well worth the patience. She is back and better than ever in this epic novel of life, death, fate, memory and love. Her characters and plot are carefully thought out and executed without flaw. The art of the novel is alive and well! Rejoice! If you read one novel this year make it this one! ~ Reviewed by Whitney Kaaz
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. Set in Vermont, Bittersweet is a tale of violence and a family's dark past. A scholarship student at a famous college spends the summer at her roommate's Vermont estate and is forced to make hard choices. Exciting and a great summer read. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Knight
White Heat 25 by Marco Pierre White. The 25th Anniversary edition of this amazing book. British bad boy White was the original high-profile celebrity chef. Gordon Ramsey is one of his now famous apprentices. White was selftaught, immensely talented, and extremely outspoken. He was the youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars. A must have for any foodie. ~ Becky Doherty
Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, Seaworld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove. As an adult, Killer Whales are one of the obsessions I have yet to grow out of, but in this book John Hargrove shatters my 8-year-old dream of Shamu and keeping Orcas captive. Hargrove gives a first-hand, distressing account of the heartbreak this industry provides to all who are involved in it. ~ Becki Trudell
The Smartest Book in the World: A Lexicon of Literacy, a Rancorous Reportage, a Concise Curriculum of Cool by Greg Proops. Fans of the Who's Line Is It Anyway comedian's podcast will be familiar with his formidable wit and arsenal of fact. His hilarious book cuts through topics ranging from Bob Dylan to Hollywood to baseball to yet more baseball. Stimulating and rib-tickling in equal measure. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-Ad 1000 by Barry Cunliffe. 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 Nate George
The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver. Masterfully evocative of time and place, this novel spans three generations of a New England family who return yearly to a fictitious Massachusetts summer community. A novel about change, both historical and personal, it is also about the fissures and healing that occurs within familial relationships. ~ Reviewed by Amy Palmer
Another Little Piece of My Heart: My Life of Rock and Revolution in the '60s by Richard Goldstein. Richard Goldstein was a pioneer and chronicler of my favorite era, the '60s. He created the role of rock critic, embedded himself into the heart of the culture, and wrote passionately about the music, musicians and politics of one of the most pivotal times in history. ~ Reviewed by Liz Barnum
Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder by Amy Butcher. One morning in 2009, Ms. Butcher awoke to the news that her closest acquaintance at college had savagely stabbed his girlfriend the previous night. The murder shattered the comfortable perception the young woman once held about people, places, and the bond of friendship. She embarked upon a personal crusade to find the answer to what may be an unanswerable question. Why did he do it? ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves
Eleanor Marx: A Life by Rachel Holmes. Nearly forgotten by history, Karl Marx's youngest daughter was a pioneering feminist and union activist. Holmes' superb biography brings the woman back to life and reminds us her work isn't over yet. Informative and fascinating - who knew the most dangerous family of the 19th century could also be such delightful company? ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens. After the passing of his wayward mother, Sufjan Stevens returns to his acoustic roots. Stripped-down instrumentation brings Sufjan's ethereal vocals and hauntingly honest lyrics to the forefront. Stevens is grappling with religion and getting older, while trying to understand and accept his mother's decision to leave when he was young. This is his masterpiece. ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll
Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke. James "Billy" Williams worked in the teak forests of Burma after WWI, learning more than anyone else about elephants as their friend, communicator, counselor, and doctor. A truly amazing story of the relationship between a man and these intelligent animals. ~ Reviewed by Louise Jones
Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. Beneath The Roots band-leader's towering 'fro is a powerful mind. His memoir is a thrilling journey around his own group, his record collection and collaborators ranging from D'Angelo to Prince. ~ Reviewed by Charles Bottomley
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. Throughout her year working for a New York City literary agency, Joanna Rakoff and her colleagues experienced intense ups-and-downs. The potential publication of J.D. Salinger's Hapworth provides a unique framing device. This is a coming-of-age story, examining what it means to really be an adult and the transition from college life to the "real world." ~ Reviewed by Chris Linendoll