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Archived Staff Picks September 2013

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Archived Staff Picks - September 2013

 

 

The Bletchley Circle (DVD):   cracking a killers code
Recommended by Marilyn

With an extraordinary flair for code breaking and razor-sharp intelligence skills, four seemingly ordinary women become the unlikely investigators of a string of grisly murders in this original thriller, set against the backdrop of post-war London.
It's 1951 and Susan, played by two-time BAFTA award-winner Anna Maxwell   Martin, Millie (Rachael Stirling, Women in Love), Lucy (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate Sophie Rundle) and Jean (Julie Graham, William   and Mary, Survivors) have returned to post-war domesticity, modestly   setting aside the part they played in the Allied victory. Their brilliant work at top security HQ Bletchley Park helped crack the codes used by the   German military, producing crucial intelligence that shortened the war.
Susan's conventionality masks a sharp, inquisitive mind. She may appear every inch the typical 1950's wife and mother, but when she hears about a string of  unsolved murders in London, Susan's old Bletchley spirit is ignited. With her handwritten charts of numbers, dates and times, and lines of wool connecting   the dots on her wall map, Susan has spotted a pattern of behaviour in the killer that no one else sees. Unaware of her background, the police dismiss   Susan's theories causing her to realize that the only way she can solve the murders is with the help of her friends.
Secretly, Susan reconvenes the formidable foursome - bohemian and streetwise Millie: Lucy, with her brilliant photographic memory and Jean, the methodical  no-nonsense organizer. A race against the clock ensues as the women work to outwit the culprit. Can they rekindle their singular expertise and discover the killer's next move - before he strikes again?


This title is available in DVD format.

 

Freedom
By: Jonathan Franzen
Recommended by Robert

Many of us are accustomed to those novelists who churn out large numbers of works to satisfy their avid readers.   National Book Award winner and Pulitzer finalist Jonathan Franzen is not one of them. He has followed the critically acclaimed "Correction" of   2001 with another examination of life in America, "Freedom". We meet the Berglunds, that kind of family, which on the surface, appears to be the model liberal family of late 20th century America. Walter is an environmental lawyer, family man and is dedicated to making his ecological footprint smaller. His wife is a stay at home mom who works hard to making a positive mark on her neighbourhood. But, as the post 911 era comes upon them, all is not well, and this family is facing great challenges.
The author uses a therapist inspired autobiography written by the mother, Patti, to show us how things have arrived at this point. Patti, the student athlete daughter of a liberal member of congress and her lawyer husband, has drifted into a college relationship and marriage with Walter, an earnest young man of much more common stock. Walter's friend Richard, a rock band leader, dedicated to sex, drugs and rock and roll, continues to be Patti's obsession. Infidelity rocks Walter's world, and Walter and Patti continue through the motions of life in suburbia. Meanwhile, their son Joey, infatuated with the girl next door, has moved in with their hard-core Republican neighbours and has found himself involved in a postwar Iraq moneymaking scheme. Walter, himself, active in the nature conservation movement has pulled into a scheme to trade coal lands in West Virginia for a refuge for a rare songbird. He is also being slowly seduced by a much younger assistant who worships him.
Both Walter and Patti attempt to find their way through the political and personal minefields of 21st century America. The Berglunds use their freedom to make mistakes, confuse love with lust and mix up goodness with greed. (Library Journal) Will the Berglunds stay together or drift into separate worlds?
The tone of this novel is quite bleak, bittersweet and demands attention to numerous plot twist. The author uses the plight of this family to demonstrate   many of the challenges an increasingly divided America faces. Once you give it a chance, this novel proves to be very though provoking.
Recommended to those who enjoy a serious read.


This title is available in Regular Print, Large Print, Book on CD, and   Downloadable eBook formats.

 

Six Years
By: Harlan Coben
Recommended by Ann

Six years have passed since Jake   Sanders watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband Todd.
But six years haven't come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd's obituary, he can't keep himself away from the funeral.   There he gets a glimpse of Todd's wife he's hoping for ... but she is not Natalie.
As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can't be found or don't   remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years, Jake's search for the woman who broke his heart - and who lied to him - soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.
Harlan Coben once again delivers a shocking page-turner that deftly explores the power of past love and the secrets and lies that such love can hide.

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

 

Safe Haven (DVD)
Recommended by Kathy

Generally panned by movie critics, Safe Haven delivers what we expect from a movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book. Set along the Carolina coast, complete with boats and the sea, this story is about a man and a woman and the romance and conflicts that arise between them. Not likely to be nominated for any awards, this DVD is nonetheless entertaining. If you enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks, you will likely appreciate this movie adaptation.
Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough star in this spellbinding romantic drama based on the novel by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook).   When a mysterious, beautiful woman named Katie (Hough), moves to Southport, North Carolina, she sparks the interest of the locals, especially Alex (Duhamel), a handsome widower. Although she is attracted to Alex, Katie is reluctant to trust him - that is, until a new friend (Cobie Smulders) convinces her to give Alex a chance, But before long, a dark secret from Katie's past threatens her happiness in this thrilling romance directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Dear John, Cider House Rules). 20th Century Fox

This title is available in DVD, Regular Print, Large Print, Book on CD and   AudioBook formats.

 


Recommended   by Yvonne
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Message from Martin Luther King Jr.'s freedom speech; delivered 50 years ago on August 28th, 1963.

This month I read two historical novels that both focus on racism and all of the complex surrounding issues of those periods in history. The Kitchen House begins in 1791 on a tobacco plantation in Virginia and Mudbound brings us to a Mississippi cotton farm in 1946. Both novels are told from first person narratives and so the stories unfold from varying character perspectives: delivering multifaceted reads.

The   Kitchen House
By: Kathleen Grissom

First Line: There was a strong smell of smoke, and new fear fueled me.
In this debut novel, Lavina is an Irish orphan that is brought to Tall Oaks (tobacco plantation) to work as an indentured servant. Belle is a house slave and chief cook at Tall Oaks and the owner's illegitimate daughter.   Raised by black servants and under the guidance of mixed race Belle, Lavina's choices are difficult as she navigates life at Tall Oaks, first as a child and then when she returns as an adult. This novel alternates between perspectives of both Lavina and Belle as events unfold among slaves, servants and the plantation owner's family.

This title is available in Large Print and Downloadable Audiobook formats.

Mudbound
By: Hillary Jordan

First Lines: Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep. Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me?
This debut novel depicts the difficult life of two families located in the deep south after WWII and is told from the perspective of six different characters: Henry, Laura and Jamie McAllan (farm owners) & Hap, Florence and Ronsel Jackson (black sharecroppers). Much of the story is the struggle with rural farm life, racism, marriage and post-traumatic stress written with an undertone of something ominous to come. the injustice of this time & place is fiercely vivid as the events leading up to Henry and Jamie digging the grave unfold "with the force of a Delta storm" (Barbara Kingsolver)

This title is available in Regular Print.

The heartbreaking injustice of racism is gut wrenching and frustrating throughout both novels, but must be read in order to learn from history.

 

The Heist
By: Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Recommended by Rachel

I must admit that I'm hesitant to read anything by an author that can turn out multiple books a year but I gave The Heist a shot and was pleasantly surprised! FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare known for her fierce dedication, discipline and obsession with chasing down one of the world's most wanted criminal and notorious con man Nicolas Fox.   Just when you think Kate has caught Nick he has one more trick up his sleeve.   He convinces the FBI to give him a job teaming him up with Kate. The two form a group with some other eccentric characters and try to stop a corrupt banker who has fled the country with millions of dollars.
Surprisingly unpredictable, action packed with a very light hint of romance this book did not disappoint and kept me laughing.

This title is available in Regular Print, Large Print, Book on CD, Downloadable eBook and AudioBook formats.

  
  
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