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Archived Staff Picks June 2014

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Archived Staff Picks - June 2014

The Promise (a DVD shot entirely on location in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa,
Caesarea, Acre, Givat Brenner, Ein Hod, Peqi'in, Ramle and Beit Gemal, Israel).
Recommended by Marilyn

In this epic and controversial four-part miniseries from award winning writer and director Peter Kosminsky. British teen Erin sets off to spend summer in Israel with her best friend Eliza, taking along an old diary she unearthed that belongs to her seriously ill grandfather Len. Intrigued by the life of this old man she barely know, Erin is stunned to learn of his part in the post-WWII British peacekeeping force in what was then Palestine.
As Len's story comes to life from the pages of the diary, she discovers the disturbing truths about his time in Palestine and the atrocities he witnessed in the 1940s. Retracing Len's steps in modern-day Israel, Erin sets out on a heartbreaking  journey in an effort to understand and fulfill a promise made by her grandfather over 60 years ago.

This is an excellent DVD that I took home first of all because it took place in Israel, a place
I have visited, and second it laid out a history that I was not aware of.  I strongly recommend this DVD.

This title is available in DVD format.

On Hummingbird Wings: A Novel
By: Lauraine Snelling
Recommended by Ann

"But Mother is always dying," is Gillian Ormsby's sarcastic response when her younger, favored sister tells her that she has to go take care of their hypochondriac mother. Much against her will, since she and her mother never have gotten along, Gillian arrives in California to find the garden and yard dead, the blinds all drawn, and her mother indeed in bed--waiting to die. "But Mother is always dying," is Gillian Ormsby's sarcastic response when her younger, favored sister tells her that she has to go take care of their hypochondriac mother. Much against her will, since she and her mother never have gotten along, Gillian arrives in California to find the garden and yard dead, the blinds all drawn, and her mother indeed in bed--waiting to die. But when Gillian talks with the doctor, he assures her there's no medical reason behind her mother's state.

Now on a mission to restore her mother to health, Gillian insists Mother get out of bed, eat, exercise and hopefully, choose to live. She also sets about reviving the garden to its former glory, enlisting the help of Adam, a handsome man who owns a family gardening business with his father. Gillian is delighted when a pair of hummingbirds appear, and her friendship with Adam grows.

Soon, Mother's health improves, and one day she announces she and her friend Enzio are going on a cruise. Before Gillian has time to turn around, her mother is gone and she is left high and dry again, and wondering, what is she going to do with the rest of her own life?

This novel is a quick and enjoyable  read.

This title is available in Regular Print and Large Print formats.

HHhH
by Laurent Binet
Recommended by Robert

At first, my attention was attracted by the odd title. Reading the flyleaf, I discovered that was an abbreviation of the German statement, "Himmlers Hirn Heisst Heydrich" which translates into "Himmler's Brain is Called Heydrich". In this award winning debut novel, the French writer Laurent Binet has recreated the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by two parachuted Czechoslovaks,  Josef Gabcik and Jan Kubis. We discover that Heydrich the Butcher , the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, is a very influential confident of Hitler and has taken a large role in the development and implementation of the Final Solution. He is a very shining, blond example of what the Fuhrer sees as his ideal Nazi.  We also meet  two expatriate soldiers who are the prime agents of "Operation Anthropoid", an attempt of former President Benes to show the Germans that resistance still continues in occupied Czechoslovakia.  Heydrich and the heroes are destined to meet in the streets of Prague.

While a Wikipedia article will offer one the novels' concluding events, the author uses 257 short chapters to build suspense. Intertwined with the story of the assassination and the Nazis eventual discovery of the plot is another story, a chronicle of the author's actual writing of this novel.  While he has no sympathy for the venal butcher Heydrich, he attempts to keep his heroes alive as long as possible.  Occasionally fumbling and betrayed by a fellow agent, these ordinary expatriate soldiers accomplish something the Allies could only dream of in 1942, striking a hard blow within the circle of Adolph Hitler. Many would be punished for their actions.  Binet uses many chapters to reveal his own feelings about those he writes about. While learning a lot about an important but little known event, we learn much about how a novelist practices his craft. The end result is great historical fiction produced in a unique and fascinating manner.  Recommended to all who enjoy this genre.

This title is available in Regular Print format.

The Husband's Secret
By:  Liane Moriarty
Recommended by Yvonne

Last Paragraph:   "None of us ever know all the possible courses our lives could have and maybe should have taken.  It's probably just as well.  Some secrets are meant to stay secret forever.  Just ask Pandora."

The trouble with the truth is that it can change everything... and nobody knows this better than Cecilia Fitzpatrick .  The novel begins with Cecilia: devoted mother, wife, volunteer and Tupperware extraordinaire grappling with whether or not to open a newly discovered letter.  The envelope was old, dusty and addressed: For my wife, Cecilia Fitzpatrick; to be opened only in the event of my death.  Oh what to do!?

The book is set in Australia, written chick lit style and features storylines revolving around three women; Cecilia, Rachel and Tess.  We get a glimpse inside the thoughts of each main character as they struggle with present-day dilemmas, while evaluating their pasts.  Author, Liane Moriarty has created scenarios that intrigue the reader and asks the tantalizing question: What would you do? 

I recommend this thought-provoking, engaging book, it had me hooked and I was eager to uncover what was going to happen next.  (Bonus was the clever epilogue).

If you enjoyed this book you may enjoy: The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore.

This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable  AudioBook and eBook formats.

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol.1  
By Robert Kirkman
Recommended by Rachel

If you are a fan of The Walking Dead television show you know this won't need much of a introduction. It's the first 48 original comic books that started it all together in one volume. It is dark, violent and gritty and will suck you in. If you think you know a lot from watching to show you will be shocked at how it was very different from the comics. The art style is amazing and it will certainly fill your zombie fix till the show returns to television. 

This title is available in Graphic Novel format.

Philomena--DVD   2013
Recommended by Kathy

"It's profoundly moving and thoroughly mind provoking, but despite the poignant subject matter, I promise you will not leave Philomena depressed. I've seen it twice and felt exhilarated, informed, enriched, absorbed and optimistic both times. This is filmmaking at its most refined."  Rex Reed (New York Observer)

Philomena is the true story of one mother's search for her lost son.

Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena (Judi Dench) was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a "fallen woman". When her baby was only a toddler, he was taken away by the nuns for adoption in America. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him in vain.

Then she met Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan, who also produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay), a world-weary political journalist who happened to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena's son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between them.

The film is a compelling narrative of human love and loss and ultimately celebrates life. It is both funny and sad and concerns two very different people, at different stages of their lives, who help each other and show that there is laughter even in the darkest places.

The book "The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee" was published in 2009. It acted as a catalyst for thousands of adopted Irish children and their 'shamed' mothers to come forward to tell their stories. Many are still searching for their lost families.

This title is available in DVD format.  Also available as The Lost child of Philomena Lee:  a mother, her son and a fifty-year search (Martin Sixsmith) in book format.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants
By:  Malcolm Gladwell
Recommended by Pauline

Three thousand years ago on a battlefield in ancient Palestine, a shepherd boy felled a mighty warrior with nothing more than a stone and a sling, and ever since then the names of David and Goliath have stood for battles between underdogs and giants. David's victory was improbable and miraculous. He shouldn't have won.

Or should he have?

In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against, or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other apparent setbacks.

Gladwell begins with the real story of what happened between the giant and the shepherd boy those many years ago. From there, David and Goliath examines Northern Ireland's Troubles, the minds of cancer researchers and civil rights leaders, murder and the high costs of revenge, and the dynamics of successful and unsuccessful classrooms---all to demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.

In the tradition of Gladwell's previous bestsellers---The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw---David and Goliath draws upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think of the world around us.

This title is available in Non-Fiction, Large Print, Book on CD and Downloadable Audiobook formats.

I've Got You Under My Skin
By:  Mary Higgins Clark
Recommended by Kim

When Laurie Moran's husband was brutally murdered, only three-year-old Timmy saw the face of his father's killer. Five years later his piercing blue eyes still haunt Timmy's dreams. Laurie is haunted by more--the killer's threat to her son as he fled the scene: "Tell your mother she's next, then it's your turn . . ."
Now Laurie is dealing with murder again, this time as the producer of a true-crime, cold-case television show. The series will launch with the twenty-year-old unsolved murder of Betsy Powell. Betsy, a socialite, was found suffocated in her bed after a gala celebrating the graduation of her daughter and three friends. The sensational murder was news nationwide. Reopening the case in its lavish setting and with the cooperation of the surviving guests that night, Laurie is sure to have a hit on her hands. But when the estranged friends begin filming, it becomes clear each is hiding secrets . . . small and large.
And a pair of blue eyes is watching events unfold, too . . .

With each page that I turned I thought that I had figured this one out.  The ending was not what I expected.  Mary Higgins Clark keeps me guessing every time.

This title is available in Regular Print and Book on CD formats.

This review is from www.goodreads.com.

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