Staff Picks 2017 May

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Staff Picks May 2017 (1.6MB)
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Anything is PossibleAnything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. Ms. Strout offers a series of vignettes to acquaint her readers with the inhabitants of the small town of Amgash, Illinois, a construct she utilized to equal success in Olive Kitteridge. One of the people who escaped the soul-deadening pall of the area was Lucy Barton, a renowned writer whose emotionally potent reunion with her estranged mother formed the backbone of the author's previous novel. Lucy returns to visit her reclusive brother, although her journey back to Amgash is like walking across a fallow field strewn with the land mines of failed relationships, deprivation, and disappointment. ~ Alden Graves
Will's Red Coat: The Story of One Old Dog Who Chose to Live AgainWill's Red Coat: The Story of One Old Dog Who Chose to Live Again by Tom Ryan. A story about an old dog named Will and how one person chooses to give him a home where he could die with dignity only to have Will surprise everyone when he chooses to live again. This book is for anyone who has loved their dogs unconditionally and wanted to give them the comfort they deserve in old age. From one dog lover to another, this story grabs your heart. ~ Suzanne Rice
Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal ProfilingIncendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling by Michael Cannell. A dramatic account of 1950's New York and the serial bomber who set the city on edge. Law enforcement made little progress toward catching him until a lone psychiatrist stepped in. This is a well-presented telling of the birth of criminal profiling. ~ Nathan George
The Outrun: A MemoirThe Outrun: A Memoir by Amy Liptrot. This is a memoir for readers who are not fond of memoirs. A young woman returns to her home in the remote Orkney Islands to escape her demons and repair her life. She discovers and rediscovers purpose, life, energy and beauty in an environment famous for its stark emptiness and lack of human contact. Wonderfully descriptive and detailed as well as uniquely captivating. ~ Karen Frank
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBIKillers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. A true crime story that easily ranks with The Devil In the White City. When oil was discovered on lands deeded to the Osage Indian tribe in Oklahoma, people who previously existed in poverty suddenly found themselves millionaires. The newfound wealth also brought a particularly vicious criminal element into their midst and members of the Osage began dying with terrifying regularity. An extraordinary tale of unquenchable greed and pitiless evil. ~ Alden Graves
The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American HistoryThe Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History by Stephan Talty. At the beginning of the 20th century, Italians in New York City, many of them recently arrived immigrants, were terrorized, extorted, and oftentimes murdered by an elusive criminal organization known as the Black Hand. Joseph Petrosino was one of the very few law enforcement officials who possessed the courage to confront the deadly menace. This is the true story of one man's determination to help his adopted country and restore honor to the name of the people of his ancestry. ~ Alden Graves
The Case for ImpeachmentThe Case for Impeachment by Allan J. Lichtman. The author correctly predicted Donald Trump's election and now he predicts Trump's impeachment based on his campaign's relationship with Russia, conflicts of interest, and other "high crimes and misdemeanors." Lichtman's analysis of the impeached President Andrew Johnson and the disgraced President Richard Nixon demonstrate impeachment is not as far-fetched as it seems. ~ Mike Hare
Bare Knuckles & Saratoga Racing: The Remarkable Life of John MorrisseyBare Knuckles & Saratoga Racing: The Remarkable Life of John Morrissey by Brien Bouyea. Possessing brute strength, indomitable will, and indefatigable energy, John Morrissey demolishes all comers in street gangs, the boxing ring, and politics. His signature achievement, the Saratoga Racecourse, stands today as the oldest sporting venue in the United States. ~ Mike Hare
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty HearstAmerican Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin. Patty Hearst became an enigmatic media superstar after her kidnapping in 1974. She was photographed wielding a weapon, participated in a bank robbery, and eluded the FBI for 19 months. Upon her arrest, she repented. Americans, caught up in the media frenzy, wondered whether Patty was a terrorist or was she coerced? Toobin's vivid writing brings the twists and turns of Hearst's story to surreal light. ~ Mike Hare
Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to LiveCork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live by Bianca Bosker. Follow along as one amateur wine drinker challenges herself to become a master sommelier. Her journey will take you into elite tasting circles. Thorough and engaging, delivering just enough scientific facts to remind readers that wine is a BIG and competitive business. It will make you want to drink more wine! Cheers! ~ Suzanne Rice
The Stars Are FireThe Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve. A young mother faces unimaginable challenges when fires brought on by a long summer drought burn her home along with thousands of others on the coast of Maine. Left homeless and without resources, she must face the future in a town that no longer exists, search for her husband who has been lost in the fire, and attempt to find happiness once again. ~ Suzanne Rice
The Book of JoanThe Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch. A brilliant, chilling, mind-altering reinvention of Joan of Arc's life. A ruined, post-apocalyptic Earth and a space vessel under totalitarian rule form the backdrop for a cosmic battle between humanity's mutated survivors. Yuknavitch's gift lies in her penetrating and precise descriptions of the physical world, from dirt and bugs to the consuming, corporeal heat of desire and love. It's a book full of destruction, passion, and joy, and one I was grateful to have read. ~ Cathy Taylor
What My Body RemembersWhat My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis. In a distinctive style, the author sets a bleak stage of cool, windswept oceanfront on the North Sea coast. The heroine is not particularly likable, and with good reason. Her childhood was ripped away at age seven and she spent years fighting her way through foster care, only to find herself confronting her demons as a young mother with nothing but her son to lose. This tale is a carefully crafted mystery. ~ Shirley Cagle
Ill WillIll Will by Dan Chaon. A psychologist, experiencing personal problems of his own, is persuaded by one of his patients that a series of drownings involving young men is actually the work of a serial killer. So skillfully constructed to keep the reader off-balance, this literary thriller occasionally seems like trying to stand upright in a rowboat in choppy waters. ~ Alden Graves
The LeaversThe Leavers by Lisa Ko. An emotional look at immigration, loss and love. After he is abandoned by his mother, an 11-year-old Chinese-American boy is adopted by two white professors in upstate New York. They change his name and try to mold him into a perfect American boy. He resists. Just when you think all is lost, a friend from his past reaches out to him and he focuses all of his efforts into finding his lost family in China. ~ Suzanne Rice
SycamoreSycamore by Bryn Chancellor. Supremely poignant, this debut novel is chock full of angst, confusion and loneliness, both teenage and adult. Bryn Chancellor's characters jump off the page with her careful depictions and the small town of Sycamore is as familiar as your hometown. This mystery that's not truly a mystery will move you, maybe to tears as it did to me. ~ Shirley Cagle
Saratoga PaybackSaratoga Payback by Stephen Dobyns. It's a seedy Saratoga where aging, part-time sleuth Charlie Bradshaw struggles to find a killer fond of decapitating horses and removing body parts of his human victims. Ex-cons, uncooperative cops, and snobbish horse owners thwart Charlie's investigation, which acquires greater urgency when Charlie discovers that he, too, is on the killer's list. ~ Mike Hare
The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James. A governess travels to a remote English estate to care for two exquisitely beautiful children, only to be confronted by specters of the deceased caretaker and her predecessor. Are the children being infected with pure evil? Or is the governess, in her isolation and imagination, descending into monstrous madness? ~ Mike Hare
Men Without Women: StoriesMen Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami. Each story in this collection shows Murakami's gifts for making the mundane seem extraordinary. While all of these men may indeed be without women, that does not mean women do not play a large part in the stories. So, while a car ride with a recently widowed man and his chauffeur may seem dull on the surface, we learn that people are never as straightforward as they seem. ~ Chris Linendoll
There Your Heart LiesThere Your Heart Lies by Mary Gordon. A master at articulating for the reader the heart and soul of her characters, the author once again delivers the magic. In 1930's New York, Marian is estranged from her wealthy Irish Catholic family. Looking to escape from their abhorrent values, she marries her dead gay brother's lover and volunteers to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The story brims with emotion and thoughtfulness, while marching the characters forward relentlessly in the sweep of history until the circle closes. Magnificent! ~ Karen Frank
CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett. When two acquaintances decide to leave their spouses for each other, both families are badly damaged. Bonds that were fragile before the divorces threaten to shatter completely and a sudden tragedy only deepens the divisions. Ms. Patchett's book is about the ability for brothers and sisters to aim the arrows that really wound their siblings, but it also confirms their singular capacity to offer comfort and refuge from life's more impersonal onslaughts. ~ Alden Graves