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Archived Staff Picks - August 2015


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Archived Staff Picks - August 2015

The Massey Murder
By Charlotte Gray
Recommended by Robert

I know! I know! I probably should have read and reviewed "The Massey Murder" prior to Charlotte Gray's visit to the Quinte West Public Library last fall. I guess it does help that when one can view a presentation given by the author herself, one really wants to read the book.  The author, one of our country's most popular biographers and historians, has taken one of the most sensational trials of the early 20th century and used this trial to portray the world of World War I Toronto. It is not just a murder investigation; the class and ethnic divisions of Edwardian Toronto are a major part of Gray's story.

During the early days of World War I, an eighteen year old English immigrant and maid of Charles "Bert" Massey has greeted this scion of one of Canada's most prominent families with gunfire. Carrie Davies has shot Mr. Massey with his own gun as he arrived on his own porch. She retreats to the inside of the house and eventually claims that "he tried to ruin me". Carrie is arrested and this begins one of this country's most tumultuous trials.

On one side, we find the shy, young English maid being defended by noted defender Hartley Dewart. Dewart despised the Massey family who represented old money and privilege. He was supported by the Toronto Telegram, a fiercely Tory newspaper that defended the honour of Miss Davies against the Massey family. On the other side could be found the crown attorney, E.E. Du Vernet and the liberal press represented by the Toronto Star's Joseph Atkinson, who tried to defend the position of this more distant Massey family member. A veritable media war ensued as young newspaper boys cried the new developments each morning.

If you are looking for a traditional murder trial investigation, you will probably be disappointed. Gray uses the murder story to reveal the attitudes and lifestyle of the various classes that populated World War I Toronto. While a small group of well-established families dominated the social and economic life of the city, an underclass of immigrants were pouring in and finding their place. Wartime Toronto was fascinated by a defendant who had killed a man who evaded war duty and was apparently dating someone on the front lines. Was this virginal maid a victim or a cold-blooded murderess?

Charlotte Gray's histories and biographies are always well researched, appealing to the general reader as well as the professional historian. The Toronto of 1915 is a very different place, a very English city with a strong link to the British Empire and its Victorian values. A virginal English maid, living in the home of the grandson of the head of Massey clan, became a beacon for a fledgling woman's movement defending the rights of single women. The trial also sold a lot of newspapers and cemented the rivalry between two journalistic rivals.

Recommended for all those who enjoy murder trials infused with excellent social history.

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

Me Before You
By: JoJo Moyes
Recommended by Marilyn

Will Traynor is a successful young man who enjoys his life. He has everything: a job, a gorgeous girlfriend and an interesting life. However, all these change after he gets involved in a road accident. Two years later, Louisa Clark, a twenty-six-year-old girl, finds out that she has lost her job at the local café 'The Buttered Bun'. Her parents are really disappointed because the whole family depends on her wage. Louisa goes to the Job Centre where Syed, the Job Centre assistant, finds an ultimate option which is to look after a disabled man. After the interview, Louisa gets accepted. Camilla Traynor, the mother of the quadriplegic, hires Louisa because she thinks her son needs someone able to cheer him up. Louisa notices how falsely everyone is acting in Granta House. She finds out that Mr.Traynor has an extra-conjugal relationship. However, due to her, Will has become more communicative and open-minded.

Louisa notices that Will's wrists are covered with scars. A time ago he tried to commit suicide and this was when his mother accepted his wish to end his life through Dignitas, an assisted dying organization. Patrick and Lou are seeing each other very rarely as he is spending even more time training. They finally broke up because of Patrick's jealousy. Will agrees on Louisa shaving his beard and cutting his shaggy hair. Treena comes up with the idea that Louisa should make Will want to live. Louisa tells Will's parents and his sister about the fact that she wants to organize for Will a foreign visit. The financial situation in Louisa's family gets worse as her dad loses his job. Mr Traynor offers Louisa's father a position at the castle. Will tries to motivate Louisa to change her life, to start doing something different and interesting.

One evening Will and Louisa go to the castle. She tells Will about the night when she was a teenager and was raped in the maze. With the help of the internet, Louisa manages to plan a holiday full of adventures for Will in Mauritius. In the night before returning home, Louisa confesses to Will that she loves him and she kisses him. Will recognizes that he is still going to end up his life through Dignitas. Louisa separated herself from Granta House. She goes to an interview and gets accepted to go to courses. Despite her mother's words, Louisa goes to Switzerland. When she meets Will, they both agree on the fact that the last six months have been the best time in their lives. Will has left Louisa a considerable amount of money to continue her education and to travel as much as possible.

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

A Carrion Death ( Detective  Kubu  #1)
By Michael Stanley
Recommended by Pauline

Smashed skull, snapped ribs, and a cloying smell of carrion. Leave the body for the hyenas to devour-no body, no case. But when Kalahari game rangers stumble on a human corpse mid-meal, it turns out the murder wasn't perfect after all. Enough evidence is left to suggest foul play. Detective David "Kubu" Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department is assigned to the case.

The detective's personality and physique match his moniker. The nickname "Kubu" is Setswana for "hippopotamus"-a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest on the continent. Beneath Kubu's pleasant surface lies the same unwavering resolve that makes the hippopotamus so deceptively dangerous. Both will trample everything in their path to reach an objective.

From the sun-baked riverbeds of the Kalahari to the highest offices of an international conglomerate, Kubu follows a blood-soaked trail in search of answers. Beneath a mountain of lies and superstitions, he uncovers a chain of crimes leading to the most powerful figures in the country-influential enemies who will kill anyone in their way.

Set amid the beauty and darkness of contemporary Africa, A Carrion Death is the first entry in an evocative new series cutting to the heart of today's Botswana-a modern democracy threatened by unstable neighbors, poachers, and diamond smugglers. Those trying to expose the corrupt ringleaders will find themselves fighting for their lives.

This title is available Regular Print and Downloadable Audiobook formats.

The Liar
by Nora Roberts
Recommended by Kim

The extraordinary new novel by the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Collector.

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions ...

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved 
Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions ...
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn't just dead. He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows--and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning...

I have always enjoyed reading Nora Roberts' books and this one did not disappoint.

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

The Storyteller
By Jodi Picoult
Recommended by Janet

Sage Singer, a young baker, works through the night to escape loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother's death.

In a grief support group she meets an elderly man, Josef Weber, and despite their differences they form an unlikely friendship. As he becomes more comfortable in her company he confesses a long-buried and shameful secret and asks her for an extraordinary favor. She is challenged with the moral and legal repercussions of his request and is forced to face the assumptions and expectations she's had about her own life and family.

This story opens up serious questions of moral dilemmas re: punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy.

It explores the lengths we will go to in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.

------Very thought provoking!

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

First Frost
By Sarah Addison Allen
Recommended by Rachel

The amazing and enchanting Waverley women are back in this sequel to Garden Spells.

It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies. Though her handcrafted confections--rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds--are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby-- a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney's daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to...if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

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

This Review from Good Reads.


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