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Archive Staff Picks june 2012

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Archived Staff Picks - June 2012

 

 

 

419
By:  Will Ferguson
Recommended by Marilyn

A car tumbles down a snowy ravine.  Accident or suicide?
On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa.  In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape.  In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.
Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart.  And it all begins with a single email:  "Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ..."
419 takes readers behind the scene of the world's most insidious internet scam.  When Laura's father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father's killer.  What she finds there will change her life forever ...
From the internationally bestselling travel writer Will Ferguson, author of Happiness™ and Spanish Fly, comes a novel both epic in its sweep and intimate in its portrayal of human suffering.  It's a story of love in a time of darkness, of one woman's search for redemption, and of a young boy who will triumph above it all.

This title is available in Book format.
Book Review is from
www.penguins.ca.

 

 

The Child Thief
By:  Gerald Brom
Recommended by Rachel

Fans of Peter Pan rejoice because there is a new twist on the tale, and it is dark, exciting and gripping.
Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood.
His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is not Neverland.  Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his famly had Peter not saved him.  Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old.  Even though he is wary of Peter's crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees.  After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?  There is always more to lose.
Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries' one where he must learn to fight or die among the "Devils" Peter's savage tribe of lost and stolen children.  There, Peter's dark past is revealed:  left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man.  The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the "Flesh-eaters" and save the last wild magic in this dying land.

This title is available in Book format. 
This summary is taken from our website.

 

 

 

The Witness
By:  Nora Roberts
Recommended by Kim

Elizabeth Fitch's short-lived teenage rebellion began with L'Oreal Pure Black, a pair of scissors, and a fake ID.  It ended in blood...
Daughter of a cold, controlling mother and an anonymous donor, studious, obedient Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking too much at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent to lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive.  The events that followed changed her life forever.
Twelve years later, the woman now known as Abigail Lowery lives alone on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks.  A freelance programmer, she works at home designing sophisticated security systems.  Her own security is supplemented by a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms.  She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the quickest way to get attention in a tiny southern town.
The mystery of Abigail Lowery intrigues local police chief Brooks Gleason, on both a personal and professional level.  Her sharp, logical mind, her secretive nature, her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something, even if he doesn't know what - and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.
Accustomed to two-bit troublemakers, Gleason is about to walk into the sights of very powerful and dangerous men.  And Abigail Lowery, who has built a life based on security and self-control, is at risk of losing both.
Most of Nora Roberts books are considered romantic suspense and I enjoy reading them but this one left me hanging.  I really think that she could have continued with a few more chapters to let us know what was going to happen with Abigail and Brooks.  Overall it was a good story!

This title is available in Book, Large Print and Book on CD formats. 
Book review from www.goodreads.com.

 

  

Caleb's Crossing 
By:  Geraldine Brooks
Recommended by Rosemary

Geraldine Brooks, author of March and Year of Wonders, has brought to life the story of Cheeshahteaumauk, a member of the Wampanoag tribe of Martha's Vineyard.  At least, he is the title character.  The story is really that of Bethia Mayfield, the narrator.  Bethia grows up in the settlement of Great Harbor as part of the Puritan community.  She begins the story as a confession for her sins, and gives us a rich description of Puritan life for a young woman, deprived of an education and restricted by religious belief and social condition.  Restless and curious, she yearns for intellectual fulfillment, and as often as she can, she slips away to explore the island.  She meets Cheeshahteaumauk, and the two form a friendship that she must keep secret from her family.  This is not a romantic adventure, but the forbidden exploration and learning about each other's culture.  Bethia's father is the religious leader of the community and is dedicated to converting the Wampanoag. In so doing, he earns the wrath of the tribe's shaman, Cheeshahteaumauk's uncle.  After meeting Cheeshahteaumauk, he undertakes to educate him along with his own son, Makepeace.  The young men eventually go to Harvard, and Bethia goes with them as an indentured servant.  Cheeshahteaumauk has become Caleb, and goes on to become the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College.
Bethia's story is an irresistible narrative of emotion and struggle, charting not only Caleb's crossing the ocean from the island of his heritage to the mainland, but depicts the greater, an sometimes unbridgeable divide, between pagan and Christian, between male and female, between Native American and white settler.

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

 

 

In the Garden of Beasts 
By: Erik Larson
Recommended by Robert

In "In the Garden of Beasts", journalist and popular non fiction author Erik Larson has turned his attention to pre-war Nazi Germany.  In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt has convinced William E. Dodd, a Democrat and history professor at the University of Chicago to take on the less than popular post of American ambassador to Germany.  Ambassador Dodd arrives in Berlin with his family, including a twenty-three year old bon vivant married daughter, Martha, who immediately throws herself into frenzied affairs with Gestapo agents, Russian spies and other interesting characters.  The diaries of Martha and her father, William, have been carefully researched to show us how this naive group of Americans slowly became aware of the true nature of the Nazi regime.  Hoping to be able to work on his opus of the Old South, Ambassador Dodd is thrust into an American diplomatic community which sees him as a parsimonious professor, unwilling to host parties that do the American image proud.  On the other hand, his daughter Martha revels in the social life of Berlin and is now showing great sympathy for the Nazi cause.  We meet Black shirts, Brown shirts and the Fuhrer himself: as the Dodds attend diplomatic functions, representing the interests of the United States.  Ambassador Dodd soon comes to intently dislike the Nazis, refusing to attend Nazi party rallies and complains when Americans were brutalized when they ran afoul of brown shirts.  Eventually, Martha begins to witness brutal anti-Semitism, beclouding the rosy picture she had previously imagined.  As the "Night of the Long Knives" approaches, the Dodds become aware that Germany is moving in a very dangerous direction.  Ambassador Dodd appears to veteran diplomats to be a fool when he chastises the Nazi regime for its abuses.  Today he would appear to be a heroic figure who could help stop Hitler early on.  In 1934, isolationists and appeasers were content to turn a blind eye to this eventual threat.
Of course, we all know where this sad story is going to end.  William Dodd's voice is lost in the wilderness, he returns home and the world is plunged into war.  Author Larson has used the recollections of Ambassador Dodd and his daughter to portray how Hitler and his regime were able to consolidate power in the face of world indifference.  Party girl Martha's diaries provide much of the fodder for Mr. Larson's tale.  Both Dodd and his daughter are profoundly changed by their experiences.  Mr. Larson had shown how the trials and tribulations of a reluctant diplomat and his eager to party daughter provide an unique portrait of Berlin before the War.
Recommended.

This title available in Book, Book on CD, Downloadable Audiobook and Ebook formats.

 

Heist Society
By: Ally Carter
Recommended by Pauline

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre ... to case it.  For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria ... to steal the crown jewels.  When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own - scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind.  Unfortunately, leaving "the life" for a normal life proves harder than she'd expected.  Soon Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape.  But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it.  Only a master thief could have pulled this job, Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list.  Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat's dad needs her help.  For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back.  So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job?  She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull of the biggest heist in her family's history -- and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

This title is available in Young Adult Fiction and Book on CD formats.

We Bought a Zoo (DVD) (PG)
Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment
Recommended by Kathy

We Bought a Zoo, a feature film based on the autobiographical book by Benjamin Mee, stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.  While Fox Studios takes some liberties with the setting and family dynamics, the basic story remains the same.
Benjamin Mee (Damon) wants to escape the city following his wife's death, and give his children and himself a new start.  With his son acting out and with himself being reminded of his wife everywhere he goes, Mee decides that getting away will be the salvation of his family.  Eventually Mee stumbles onto a run-down zoo, threatened with imminent closure if someone does not buy and make needed improvements to the property and the zoo enclosures.  Seeing the possibilities the zoo has to offer, Mee sinks his life saving into purchasing the property and, along with its eclectic staff members begins to make the necessary changes in order to be able to reopen the zoo.  Racing against a looming deadline and a heartless inspector, Mee, his family and his staff accomplish an almost impossible task in readying the zoo to reopen.  Along the way, Mee reconnects with his teenage son and develops new relationships with his staff, the community and his animal charges.

This title is available in Book and DVD formats.

Falling to Pieces
By:  Vannetta Chapman
Recommended by Ann

In this first book of a three-book series, author Vannetta Chapman brings a fresh twist to the popular amish fiction genre.  When two women -- one Amish, one English -- each with different motives, join forces to organize a successful on-line quilt auction, neither expects nor wants a friendship.  As different as night and day, Deborah and Callie are uneasy partners who simply want to make the best of a temporary situation.
But a murder, a surprising prime suspect, a stubborn detective, and the town's reaction throw the two women together, and they form an unlikely alliance to solve a mystery and catch a killer.  Set in the well-known Amish community of Shipshewana, Falling to Pieces is a fun, light novel.
Hope you enjoy.

This title is available in Book format.

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