Staff Picks 2017 October

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Staff Picks October 2017 (1.5MB)
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The Strange Case of the Alchemist's DaughterThe Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss. After burying her mother, Mary Jekyll finds strange documents relating to her long deceased father and his sudden death. Enlisting the help of an investigator named Holmes, they follow the trail of clues, leading them to four very unique women: Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau and Justine Frankenstein. This page-turner is a great mashup of gothic horror, fantasy and mystery! ~ Sarah Donner


Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American HistoryUnbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur. When NBC News correspondent Katy Tur began to cover the Trump campaign, she thought it would be a brief assignment. A year and a half later it was over. An eye-opening account of what it was like to be on the front lines during the most bizarre campaign in recent history. Highest Recommend! ~ Sarah Donner
Poppies of IraqPoppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly & Lewis Trondhim. Readers of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis will find both familiar and new territory in this part-memoir, partcultural illustration of growing up in an Orthodox Christian family in turbulent, modern Iraq. ~ Katelynne Shimkus
Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable CrimeRanger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum. On the night he was due to ship out to Iraq, U.S. Army Ranger Alex Blum instead robbed a Tacoma bank. His cousin Ben investigates why in this compelling story. Part memoir, part true crime, Games is ultimately a unique look at the complexities of family and the demands of our fighting forces. It will keep you gripped until the last page. ~ Charles Bottomley
Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn BridgeChief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge by Erica Wagner. The name Washington Roebling seldom crosses the minds of those who cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Wagner frames the chief engineer's monumental accomplishment within the context of horrid abuse by his brilliant, tyrannical father, four years of battle in the Civil War, and his own unfailing intelligence, integrity, and often sardonic wit. ~ Mike Hare
The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed RussiaThe Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen. How to tell the story of Russia’s transformation from crumbling Communist empire to global supervillain? Putin biographer Gessen uses the lives of a handful of Russians born in the 1980s, waking up to freedom only to retreat into an intolerant nationalism. It can feel like reading science fiction, but the horror is very real. Revelatory and astounding, it’s this year’s most essential book. ~ Charles Bottomley
Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of JazzGood Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz by Fred Hersch. The author is one of the greatest jazz pianists of his generation. This is his story - from upper middle-class Midwestern beginnings to wild times in New York City. Hersch is the first openly gay, HIV positive jazzman. In the overtly masculine world of be-bop and straight-ahead jazz, his was a difficult road in coming to terms with who he was and dealing with serious health concerns. Readers and listeners of jazz will appreciate this candid and musical memoir. ~ Stan Hynds
You Will Not Have My HateYou Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris. On November 16, 2015, Antoine Leiris lost his wife at the Baltaclan Theatre in Paris bombing that killed 88 people.This powerful story follows Antoine and their infant son thru his search for news, the loss, and the sadness of her death. The letter he wrote to her killers and posted on Facebook explaining his determination to raise their son without hate is inspiring. ~ Suzanne Rice
Future Noir Revised & Updated Edition: The Making of Blade RunnerFuture Noir Revised & Updated Edition: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon. Blade Runner flopped in theaters in 1982 but went on to become one of the most influential films of the century. Sammon was there from the beginning, reporting from the set for Cinefantastique. Packed with insight from Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford and more, this isn't just the epic history of a scifi masterpiece, but a must-read about Hollywood movie-making. ~ Charles Bottomley
Alfred HitchcockAlfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd. As the jacket states, this "brief life" Alfred Hitchcock provides the perfect introduction to the complex personal and professional history of the iconic filmmaker. Incidents experienced on the long road from his self-imposed isolation as a child to his status as the most recognized and celebrated movie director in the world provide clues to a mystery that is as fascinating as the stories he explored on the screen. ~ Alden Graves
The Twelve-Mile StraightThe Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson. Juke Jesup works the cotton fields in Georgia with his black field hand, Genus Jackson. When Genus is accused of raping Juke’s daughter Elma, her father takes matters into his own hands and in the end, Genus is hung and dragged along the Twelve Mile Straight road. With Elma pregnant and Nan, the housekeeper, hiding her own secrets, Juke forces them into a string of lies that ultimately unravel their fragile world. A strong story confronting racial and social injustice. ~ Suzanne Rice
The Ninth HourThe Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott. This luminous piece of historical fiction is set in early 20th-century Irish-Catholic Brooklyn. It is a tale of how a man’s death resonates through subsequent generations where faith and beliefs have been shaped by religion and superstitions. The author non-judgmentally relates how these people are doing the best they can making choices on love and vocation. Gorgeous. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
Manhattan BeachManhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan. A young woman begins an affair with a suave gangster she suspects was involved in the disappearance of her beloved father when she was a child. Set mostly during the Second World War, this ambitious novel by the Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad vividly evokes an anxious era and presents a formidable protagonist in Anna Kerrigan, whose ambition to become the first woman diver at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was evidence of her refusal to believe that she couldn’t do anything as well as any man. ~ Alden Graves
The Child FinderThe Child Finder by Rene Denfeld. Alternating between the voice of the Child Finder who herself was once a missing child with a lost past and has been hired to find a missing and presumed dead young girl, and the voice of the imaginative and heartrending Snow Girl, this evocative novel tells the story of looking for someone lost and ultimately finding oneself. This haunting novel will resonate with you long after you have finished it. ~ Alden Graves
The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B. A. Paris. Written with a heavy buildup of anticipation, the author writes another psychological thriller. She sparks a bit of mistrust in each character and keeps you guessing. I couldn’t put this book down. ~ Katelynne Shimkus
Reincarnation BluesReincarnation Blues by Michael Poore. The delightful, nearly eternal tale of Milo who is almost out of time (10,000 lives!) in his soul’s quest to attain perfection. If he fails: death. but success means eternal bliss. An imaginative romp through countless lives and brilliant worlds! ~ Jonathan Fine
My Absolute DarlingMy Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. This is a family war story with one hell of a courageous heroine at its vortex. Turtle Alveston is unforgettable. Reading this novel will keep your shattered heart pounding through every last page – and you will be obsessed with getting there, though not so quickly as to miss any detail provided by this enormously talented author. ~ Katelynne Shimkus
Montpelier ParadeMontpelier Parade by Karl Geary. Geary’s first novel is brave and deeply affecting. Brave because he tells the story in the second person. (You have to get used to it, but you do.) Affecting because of the superbly crafted characters. In 1980’s Dublin, Sonny, an aimless, workingclass teen falls for Vera, a posh, older English woman. Sonny’s life is little more than a sad pattern to be endured. Vera represents beauty and worldliness, although she is utterly unknowable to him. Their slowly developing relationship is ultimately touching, heartbreaking and doomed. ~ Stan Hynds
Leopard at the DoorLeopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh. A sweeping novel set in 1950's Kenya. A young woman returns to her family farm after being away at boarding school for six years. She must learn to accept her father and his new relationship with a strange and powerful woman and learn to live in an ever changing politically unsettled climate. ~ Suzanne Rice
All We Shall KnowAll We Shall Know by Donal Ryan. This may be the best book I read in 2017. Melody Shee's husband is not the father of the child she carries. An outcast in her Irish town, haunted by the death of a childhood friend, she befriends a nineteen year old Traveller (gypsy) woman named Mary Crothery. It's a fascinating relationship. Ryan's prose begs to be read aloud. ~ Stan Hynds
As Lie Is to GrinAs Lie Is to Grin by Simeon Marsalis. An African American student's start at the University of Vermont packs a racially disturbing shock concerning his girlfriend's grandfather. The student's obsessions with his girlfriend, architecture, and the novel Cane often frustrate his quest to overcome the troubling discovery, and the twisted legacy of race. ~ Mike Hare