Staff Picks 2015 October

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Staff Picks October 2015 (1.5MB)
Early WarningThe Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. Geraldine Brooks is a master at taking a minor thread of history and bringing it to light flawlessly. This is the story of King David as told by his most trusted prophet. From David's time as a young shepherd fighting the giant of Gath to his struggles as the King of Israel, Brooks has brought this biblical hero to life. Historical fiction at its best! ~ Jess Elder
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. Residents of Consilence live regimented lives sheltered from the chaos of economic and social collapse plaguing the world. Peace of mind, however, comes at a price higher than the citizens bargained for as their utopia becomes a nightmare they are unlikely to survive. ~ Jess Hanlon
Fear of Dying by Erica Jong. The walls of old age – dying parents, a sick dog and husband, a steady, sexless marriage - are closing in on Vanessa Wonderman. Brutally honest and witty, you'll laugh, smirk, and cry at Jong's latest exploration of women's lives. ~ Jess Hanlon
God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher. In this latest return to Vermont's Kingdom County, Jim Kinneson tries to makes sense of the entwined lives and family secrets that surround him. Mosher's unique characters dot the landscape along Jim's path. Their quirks and personalities are undeniably fresh, yet they remain familiar and grounded. This is storytelling at its best with a master at the helm. ~ Erik Barnum
Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt. Lucien Minor takes a job at the remote Alpine castle of the elusive -- and quite possibly deranged -- Baron Von Aux. All his ominous forebodings are tempered by his determination to win the heart of the fair, if slightly manhandled, Klara. This is a fractured fairy tale in the hands of a master of devilishly dark and delightful literary art. ~ Alden Graves
Sweet Caress by William Boyd. Epic, in the very best sense of the word, this novel is also profoundly personal. Boyd is a master at getting inside the head of his characters and perceiving the flow of life and history through their eyes. The reader is virtually consumed by this story and may find it nearly impossible to put down until the end. ~ Karen Frank
House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure. The scene: The Gilded Age in New York.
The cast: A wealthy architect and his family (related to the Astors) and Kent's Gents (a notorious gang of thieves and killers).
The premise: The debt must be repaid.
The result: A rollicking adventure of a book! ~ Liz Barnum
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm. Sunny gets sent to Florida to vacation with her grandfather. Once there, she meets Buzz, the son of Cuban immigrants. Together they have all sorts of adventures among the elderly community (rescuing cats, avoiding alligators). Along the way Sunny discovers there are more kinds of power than the comic book super hero kind, most importantly the power that comes from sharing your secrets. ~ Adriana Gómez Piccolo
The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill. For fans of Wildwood and The Apothecary comes this new novel of fate, family, and friendship. Filled with omens, the book follows two children destined to meet as their kingdoms clash over stolen magic and family traditions. A wonderful tale of finding your own voice despite a great responsibility to attend to the needs of others. A mustread! ~ Aubrey Restifo and Whitney Kaaz
Strangers Again by Judy Collins. Judy Collins' voice is probably as close to what Heaven must sound like as mortal man is allowed to hear. Her new album proves that her voice is also ageless. Strangers Again is a collection of duets that pairs Ms. Collins with 12 different male vocalists, including Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Don McLean, and Jimmy Buffett. Best cut: A gorgeous version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" with Bhi Bhiman. ~ Alden Graves
Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis by Tim Flannery. A superb update on climate change and our hope for the future. Besides a thorough evaluation of the current science, Flannery takes us on a survey of many of the possible technological interventions on the horizon to help us combat the already changing climate. Excellent read. ~ Chris Morrow
Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness by Cat Cora. A candid memoir from a renowned chef. Growing up in the South, she was exposed to plenty of good home cooking. Throw in the fact that her father is Greek and the fusion of flavors explodes. Not only do we follow her blossoming career and her battle to be accepted in a male dominated world, but also her struggles with sexuality and early abuse. This is a rewarding and inspiring read. ~ Becky Doherty
Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him by T. J. English. An unholy alliance between the FBI, the Justice Department, and some of the most violent criminals in the country led to the Whitey Bulger era in Boston in the 1970s. Bulger robbed, extorted, and murdered his way into infamy abetted and protected by federal law enforcement agencies. This is a detailed account of his trial in 2013, one of the most shocking exposés of official corruption in the country’s history. ~ Alden Graves
The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg. Longsuffering Murray Maniacs (Murriacs?) finally have a book that is a dream come true. Formatted as an encyclopedia, this is a treasure trove of Bill Facts, movie reviews, revealing behindthe- scenes scuttlebutt, and candid remarks from Murray's co-stars. Because Bill is such a notorious recluse, this may be the closest we get to a career-spanning biography any time soon. ~ Chris Linendoll
The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt That Changed the Nation by Joe Urschel. In the depths of the Depression, criminals found a new way to acquire quick cash. Kidnapping had reached epidemic proportions. George “Machine Gun” Kelly and his statuesque wife, Kathryn, picked the wrong target in oil executive Charles Urschel. This is a fascinating story of a victim who refused to be victimized and the ascension of a federal law enforcement agency overseen by an ambitious lawman in Washington named Hoover. ~Alden Graves
Coloring for Adults for Dummies. I laughed when I saw this Dummies book. Who doesn’t know how to color? Me. Chapter 1 has lots of information about choosing materials and techniques to use as you color. Markers, colored pencils, crayons and watercolors can be used to create different effects like dotting, hatching, texture, and depth. Very helpful in making coloring more enjoyable. ~ Sarah Knight
Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr. This is the book that Tennessee Williams deserved. A magnificent biography of the great American dramatist, a man as complex and as tortured as many of the characters in his plays. Williams left behind a voluminous amount of journals and letters from which Mr. Lahr seamlessly reconstructs a life that was plagued with self-doubt and paralyzed with substance abuse, but occasionally it touched the heavens. ~ Alden Graves

Skillfully weaving together life and art, Lahr lays bare our greatest dramatist. Smart, gossipy and never boring, this biography is an essential read for anyone interested in American theater. ~ Charles Bottomley

The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude by Howard Axelrod. Howard splits his narrative between his final year at Harvard and his move into a secluded cabin deep in the Vermont woods. Vivid portraits of the natural beauty surrounding the cabin are interjected with visceral memories of the freak accident that robbed him of half his eyesight. The author ruminates on lost loves, familial drama and his acclimation to a world that has suddenly lost its depth in more ways than one. ~ Chris Linendoll