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Archived Staff Picks - April 2016


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Archived Staff Picks - April 2016

His Right Hand
by: Mette Ivie Harrison
Recommended by Marilyn

In Draper, Utah, a tight-knit Mormon community is thrown into upheaval when their ward's second counselor--one of the bishop's right-hand men--is found dead in an elaborately staged murder on church property. Carl Ashby was known as a devout Mormon, a pillar of the community, and a loving husband and father. Who would want him dead?

Linda Wallheim, the wife of the ward's bishop, can't rest as long as the ward is suffering. She is particularly worried about Carl's grieving family. But the entire case is turned upside down by the autopsy report, which reveals Carl Ashby was a biological female. In the Mormon church, where gender is considered part of a person's soul, some people regard transgenderism as one of the worst possible transgressions of faith. Church officials seem to be more upset by Carl's gender than by his murder, and more concerned with hushing up the story than solving the crime.

Linda realizes that if the police are to catch the killer, they are going to need an ally on the inside--and she is the only one who can help. Carl was living a life of secrecy for twenty years. What else was he hiding--and can Linda ferret out the key to his death before the rumors tear her community apart?

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

Beautiful Joe
By Marshall Saunders
Recommended by Rachel

Beautiful Joe is a remarkable classic exploring issues of animal cruelty told from the point of view of one dog, Joe. This work was an instant success upon its release in Canada, becoming the first book to sell over a million copies in that country. Written as a kind of dog's autobiography, the work was innovative in its narrative technique. Often compared to Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty", the novel tracks the true story of a terrier in Maine named Joe. As Joe tells his story, the reader quickly meets his cruel owner Jenkins. Jenkins mistreatment grows more intense over time. The reader develops a deep sympathy for Joe and his canine counterparts on account of its narrative point of view. Joe's journey through abuse towards being rescued is a harrowing account not to be missed by the animal lover.

This title is available in Juvenile Fiction Regular Print and in Downloadable EBook formats.
Review from

Fifteen dogs
by André Alexis - 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Recommended by Pauline

" I wonder", said Hermes, "what it would be like if animals had human intelligence."

" I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals - any animal you like - would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence."

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a grou " I wonder", said Hermes, "what it would be like if animals had human intelligence."
" I'll wager a year's servitude, answered Apollo, that animals - any animal you like - would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence."

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic.

 Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old 'dog' ways, and those who embrace the change.

The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings.

What unfolds is a powerful story about what it means to have human consciousness, and the good and the bad that comes with it. It challenges the reader to examine their own existence and recall the age old question, what's the meaning of life.

This title is available in Downloadable Audiobook and eBook formats.

The Miniaturist
By: Jessie Burton
Recommended by Robert

Having enjoyed Tracy Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earring "and Donna Tartt's  "The Goldfinch", I was attracted to another novel based upon a work of art, Petronella Oortman's cabinet of miniatures found in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. While the real Petronella Oortman was a wealthy 17th century native of Amsterdam whose miniatures alone could purchase a canal side house, the author's "Nella" is an eighteen year old who has moved from a provincial town to marry a wealthy merchant much older than she. It certainly appears to have been an arranged marriage between a naïve young girl and a distant, though polite man of industry.  Nella moves into a household seemingly run by her husband's sharp tongued and forbidden sister Marin. Life with a husband whom she hardly sees and in a house with few friendly faces falls short of Nella's expectations. Suddenly, this drab existence changes when her husband gives her an extraordinary wedding present-a cabinet sized replica of their house. In order to furnish it, Nella employs the services of a miniaturist, who creates and delivers exquisite items to fill the cabinet house. Soon, these pieces begin to reveal secret aspects of the Brandt household and even begin to foretell the future. As Nella begins to learn more, what seems to be an ideal existence in 1686  Amsterdam is turning into a veritable nightmare. Nella finds herself growing up quickly as discovers secrets which threaten to turn a wealthy, respected Dutch family and its retainers into the streets. Aware of the secrets of her husband, Johannes and his sister Marin, Nella has to take decisive actions on matters of life and death.

The author has done an extraordinary job recreating the repressively pious, but money obsessed society of 17th century Amsterdam. Beneath the surface of affluent respectability one finds illicit love affairs and unaccepted sexual practices. We become impressed with an eighteen year old heroine who carefully navigates a perilous world of sugar trading and religious conformity. When we begin reading this novel, we may anticipate a sort of Jane Eyre story where the heroine melts the heart of a distant new husband.  It soon becomes clear that a very different fate awaits Petronella. Winner of a number of book awards, "The Miniaturist" should satisfy the reading tastes of most readers of historical fiction.

This title is available in Regular print, Book on CD and Downloadable EBook formats.

Miss you already - DVD
Recommended by Kathy

"A movie about love and loss that doesn't dissolve into soft focus when the hard parts start."  Leah Greenblatt--Entertainment Weekly

MISS YOU ALREADY is an honest and powerful story following two best friends, Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), as they navigate life's highs and lows.  Inseparable since they were young girls, they can't remember a time they didn't share everything--secrets, clothes, even boyfriends--but nothing prepares them for the day Milly is hit with life-altering news.  A story for every modern woman, MISS YOU ALREADY celebrates the bond of true friendship that ultimately can never be broken, even in life's toughest moments.

This title is available in DVD format.

Review is taken from


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