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Archived Staff Picks - September 2012

 

The Housekeeper and The Professor
By: Yoko Ogawa
Recommended by Pauline

He is brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem -- ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.
She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities -- like the Housekeeper's shoe size -- and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

This title is available in Book format.

The Divining
By: Barbara Wood
Recommended by Ann

I just read The Divining by Barbara Wood. I am a big fan of this author and suggest her books to many people. I really enjoy the history and learning about this time period. Even though I read it in short order, I can say that I was a little disappointed in the telling. I am looking forward to the next book.
Ancient Rome: 54 C.E. Nineteen-year-old Ulrika is plagued with strange visions and dreams. In order to discover the truth behind her past and her unusual powers, Ulrika embarks on a dangerous journey to her father's homeland, Germania. There, she discovers her calling, a rare gift known as the Divining.
Sent on a quest to find her destiny, she travels far and wide, from ancient Germania to the vast and exotic countries of Syria, Babylon, and Persia. Along the way she meets wise spiritual guides -- men, women, and spirits alike -- who teach her to harness her ability to heal and protect others. Ulrika's journey brings her close to the handsome trader Sebastianus Gallus, who must depart for his own quest to the Far East to gain riches for the powerful emperor Nero. But can Ulrika reunited with the man she loves, fulfill her profound destiny, and usher in a new era in Rome under the threatening rule of Nero?
A Powerful, spiritual story of romance, betrayal, faith and courage. The Divining stunningly brings to life one young woman's daring role in shaping the entire ancient empire of Rome.

This title is available in Book format.
This review is from
http://www.barbarawood.com/my-titles/featured_book.

Home Front
By: Kristin Hannah
Recommended by Marilyn

In her bestselling novels Kristin Hannah has plumbed the depths of friendship, the loyalty of sisters, and the secrets that mothers keep. Now, in her most emotionally powerful story yet, she explores the intimate landscape of a troubled marriage with this provocative and timely portrait of a husband and wife, in love and at war. All marriages have a breaking point. All families have wounds. All wars have a cost....Like many couples, Michael and Jolene Zarkades have to face the pressures of everyday life - children, careers, bills, chores - even as their twelve-year-marriage is falling apart. Then an unexpected deployment sends Jolene deep into harm's way and leaves defence attorney Michael at home, unaccustomed to being a single parent to their two girls. As a mother, it agonizes Jolene to leave her family, but as a soldier she has always understood the true meaning of duty. In her letters home, she paints a rose-colored version of her life on the front lines, shielding her family from the truth. But war will change Jolene in ways that none of them could have foreseen. When tragedy strikes, Michael must face his darkest fear and fight a battle of his own - for everything that matters to his family. At once a profoundly honest look at modern marriage and dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family, Home Front is a story of love, loss, heroism, honor, and ultimately hope.
I don't usually read chick lit but I found this book quite emotional. It was a good summer read.

This title is available in Book format.
This review is from
www.kristinhannah.com.

Backfire
By: Catherine Coulter
Recommended by Kim


San Francisco Judge Ramsey Hunt, longtime friend to FBI agents Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich, is presiding over the trial of Clive and Cindy Cahill - accused in a string of murders - when the proceedings take a radical turn. Federal prosecutor Mickey O'Rourke, known for his relentless style, becomes suddenly tentative in his opening statement, leading Hunt to suspect that Mickey is being threatened - suspicions that are all but confirmed when Hunt is shot in the back. Savich and Sherlock receive news of the attack as an ominous note is sent to Savich at the Hoover Building: You deserve this for what you did. Security tapes fail to reveal who delivered the note. Who is behind the shooting of Judge Ramsey Hunt? Who sent the note to Savich? And what does it all mean? Savich and Sherlock race to San Francisco to find out ... watching their backs all the while.
Backfire is the 16th book in Catherine Coulter's F.B.I. Series.
I found this book started out slow (not what I am used to with Catherine Coulter) but the more I read the more fast paced it became. As I got closer to the end of the book I was happy that I kept reading it because the ending is not what I expected. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

This title is available in Book and Book on CD formats.
This review is from
www.catherinecoulter.com.

 

Here and Now
(Music CD)
By: Nickleback
Recommended by Kathy

Nickleback, the Canadian rock group, released their 7th album in November 2011. Topping both American and Canadian charts in its first week of release, the album contains 11 new tracks. According to Billboard.com "The band specializes in meat-and-potatoes songs catchy enough to leave even the haters humming them well after the final fade. Whether they're anthems or ballads, Nickleback serves them up with memorable melodies and precision sonics, old school aesthetics for a new world." Two singles, "When we stand together" and "Bottoms up" were released in September 2011, while the third single from the album "This means war" was released in early November 2011.
Nickleback is comprised of Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake and Daniel Adair. Originally from Hanna, Alberta, the band is now based in Vancouver, B.C. All the songs on this album were composed by Chad Kroeger, with the lyrics, in most cases being written by Chad Kroeger and other members of the band including Mike Kroeger and Ryan Peake.
Just by listening to several of the tracks, a person can tell it's Nickleback. Some of the vocals and the music are reminiscent of other Nickleback productions. From the hard-hitting "Kiss it goodbye" and "This means war" to the softer side with the rock ballads "Lullaby" and "Don't ever let it end," Nickleback fans should not be disappointed by this album.

This title available in Music CD format.

The Accident
By: Linwood Barclay
Recommended by Rosemary

I have to confess. Mysteries are my least favourite genre. Ask anyone who's seen me read one. I get to page 75, maybe. Then it's a quick flip to the last few pages to see whodunit! It's a little embarrassing to admit this, but I honestly can't stand the suspense and few writers manage to pace their stories so that I can hold out.
That said I thoroughly enjoy Linwood Barclay mysteries. I was delighted to find his latest book on the Evergreen Awards list from the Ontario Library Association. Barclay writes that part of the mystery genre called "domestic suspense", about average people whose lives unravel in a virtual roller coaster of mystery and adventure.
In The Accident, Barclay's main character is Glenn Garber, a small town dad who has just lost wife Sheila in a car accident. That alone is devastating, but as Garber tries to cope with his loss, he is faced with more problems. Sheila's accident is more complex. Her car was parked on a ramp when another car crashed into it, killing her and the two occupants of the car. And the autopsy now shows that Sheila was drunk and is responsible for the accident. How, wonders poor Glenn, when he can't remember his wife ever being drunk?
It gets worse. His company is in economic downfall and faces a possible lawsuit for a house fire. His daughter 8 year old Kelly, is being bullied at school. His office manager has just lost her elderly father and his top employee may lose his home. His mother-in-law hates him and wants Kelly to move in with her.
You would think that there were enough surprises for this poor guy, but it does get worse. The plot thickens, as it were. Kelly overhears a conversation with a friend's mom. (She actually records it on her own phone.) Well, then the creepy guys start showing up and the dead bodies start piling up, and just when Glenn thinks he has it all figured out, something else happens.
Barclay is really good at pacing the plot, and presenting characters we can actually relate to. Glenn is an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation, but totally believable.
I was good this time. I didn't peek once, I think because of Barclay's excellent plot twists and turns. I got to the end, and OMG! I still can't believe who did what. Don't turn to the end, folks, it's worth the surprise.

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

Little Night
By: Luanne Rice
Recommended by Rachel

After bludgeoning her sister's abusive husband with a burnt log and Anne's false testimony in defence of her husband, Clare Burke is sent away to jail to serve two years for assault in the dramatic opening of the book. The sisters become estranged, and the story picks up 18 years later in New York City, where Clare is a urban birder and nature blogger. Though she's never fully recovered from the trauma of her sister's betrayal, Clare longs to reconnect and regain the closeness she once shared with Anne, who has since cut all ties with her family on the demand of her manipulative husband. Suddenly Grit Anne's 21-year-old daughter, show up on Clare's doorstep seeking a family to love her and she has a life full of secrets and damage. Clare and Grit instantly form a close bond, but Ann is never far from Clare's thoughts and Grit is reluctant to discuss her mother. When Grit has an accident Clare reaches out to her long lost sister hoping Ann won't abandon her daughter in her time of need.
I enjoyed reading this book, it moved slowly at times but I fell in love with the characters and found myself hoping for a happy ending. It is a very touching story that inspires hope and a desire to give my sister a huge hug! I hope that there is a second.

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

The Upside of Down
By: Thomas Homer-Dixon
Recommended by Robert

The title of this book gives us the impression that the author has a quite optimistic view of our future. It does, however, become quite clear that Thomas Homer-Dixon's vision of the future is not at all rosy and that much of the book focuses on the many urgent problems that our world faces. Homer-Dixon, Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto and winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction for the Ingenuity Gap, identifies a large number of converging stresses that could break down national and global orders and create a catastrophe that could hurt billions of people. These stresses include energy stresses from the increasing scarcity of conventional oil, economic stresses from the widening gap between rich and poor, demographic stresses because of the differing birth rates between the developed and developing world, and environmental stresses at national and global levels. Homer-Dixon perceives energy to be the most important factor because it is the world's master resource. The author defines EROI (energy return on investment) as the cost of scarce energy that will handicap man's attempts to solve all his other problems. Homer-Dixon uses ancient Rome as an example of a society which no longer possessed the necessary energy to maintain the integrity of its empire.
Homer-Dixon is concerned that interconnectivity is ensuring that problems in one part of the world quickly roll over to the entire planet. If everyone shares the same computer system, it does not take very long for stock market woes in one country to affect everyone. A "cascading collapse of systems" will also impact the entire world and could lead to political and economic chaos. However, all is not lost. An overwhelming crisis can force man to make the necessary changes that will reform and renew institutions, prevent what Homer-Dixon call the "synchronous failure" and lead us to a new and humane future. If we make a serious attempt to recognize real problems and solve them, we will be able to achieve this future. If we follow those who deny the existence of energy losses and demand unbridled growth, we are truly on the road to Armageddon.
This is a fascinating read. While its tone may appear negative, it addresses all of the challenges which we face in the 21st century. It is well researched and includes nearly 100 pages of interesting notes and bibliographical references. if you are interested in learning more about the nature of today's world behind the headlines, you will find the "Upside of Down" an excellent read.

This title is available in Book format.

 

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