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Archived Staff Picks - November 2014


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 Archived Staff Picks - November 2014

Death of a Mad Hatter (A Hat Shop Mystery, Book #2)
By: Jenn McKinlay
Recommended by Pauline

Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim's Whims--their ladies' hat shop on London's chic Portobello Road--to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children's hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it--he's been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who's mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat...

This title is available in Paperback and Downloadable eBook formats.

by Barbara Wood
Recommended by Ann 

Set in London, New York, and San Francisco from the late nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth, Domina is the inspiring saga of one woman's personal and professional triumph against the prejudices of her time.

Beautiful and courageous, Samantha Hargrave dares to dream that she will become one of the first female doctors-and surgeons-in America. Set in London, New York, and San Francisco from the late nineteenth century through the first decades of the twentieth, Domina is the inspiring saga of one woman's personal and professional triumph against the prejudices of her time.

Beautiful and courageous, Samantha Hargrave dares to dream that she will become one of the first female doctors-and surgeons-in America. Born in the slums of London and possessing a special gift for healing, Samantha struggles to enter the all-male medical profession. When her ambition meets with hostile rejection in England, she sails to America, where she meets an eccentric doctor who takes her on as an apprentice. But at the high-profile Astor Ball in New York, Samantha is introduced to the second of the three men who will change her life forever-and love just might interfere with her ambition.

Acclaimed novelist Barbara Wood reveals her remarkable talent by capturing Samantha's indomitable spirit, making Domina a literary triumph.

This title is available in Regular Print format.

This review is from

The Rosie Effect
By Graeme Simions
Recommended by Rachel

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are married and living in New York. But now a Don faces a new challenge. Rosie is pregnant... 

Fatherhood is a new problem Don had not given much thought too, but with overwhelming data stacked against him Don has come to the conclusion he is not fit for the job.

Don can't decide if it's the "blue fin tuna incident", physically fighting with a confrontational neighbor, the dramatic shift in his relationship with Rosie, or the cold shoulder he receives from the "the Lesbian Mothers Project" but nothing is going his way. 

Overwhelmed with finding a new suitable place to live, becoming a father, trying to keep Gene and Claudia together all while being supportive rather than bossy with Rosie.  Don's solution?  Logically he sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual style gets him into trouble with the law.  Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice. 

Don Tillman is back for another heartwarming laugh filled ride. While not as great at the Rosie Project I still had to know what happens next. This book is proof that you can do anything they want as long as their heart is in the right place.

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

The Good Girl
By Mary Kubica
Recommended by Yvonne

"I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will." 

The Good Girl follows three main characters, before; during and after an abduction plot that changes everyone forever.  Mia Dennett (kidnapped victim) is the errant daughter of a prominent judge and his lonely socialite wife Eve.  Colin Thatcher is a thug hired to snatch & deliver Mia -but suddenly makes a rogue snap decision that sets the story into motion.

Abductor and victim are hidden away in rural Minnesota while good (the police) and evil (men who hired Colin) are searching for them.  This story sucks you in and slowly reveals the real story of what actually happened during those months Mia was gone; one layer at a time.  A secondary storyline develops between Eve and the police detective on the case, revealing that marriage and family is complex and rarely as perfect as it may appear.

I found this to be good concept for a story, well written in a quiet shadowy way that keeps the readers' interest right through until the end. 

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

The Fault in Our Stars--DVD
Recommended by Kathy

"After having the privilege of witnessing Shailene Woodley's transcendent, pure and authentic       performance in "The Fault in Our Stars," I believe there are now only four slots available in the category of Best Performance by An Actress in a Lead role. She's that memorable."  RICHARD ROEPER, Chicago Sun-Times

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort ) are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

This movie is based on the Young Adult novel written by John Green.
This title is available  on DVD, as a YA novel, YA Book on CD and Downloadable eBook formats.

Happiness Project

By: Gretchen Rubin

Recommended by Krista

One day author Gretchen Rubin gets the idea if she were to study happiness could she actually raise her level of happiness in her life.  She embarks on a journey of research reading endless works on the subject. Each month of the year she does three or four activities on a different aspect of life.  Some of the things she decides to try are: does money buy happiness, to nagging less, being more grateful and taking on a new challenge.

I liked this book because I found the author very relatable and her writing was enjoyable to read.  She explores a wide variety of methods to increase happiness so the reader can choose to take on all the challenges or pick and choose the ones that appeal to them.  I liked the idea that small manageable changes can make a difference in someone's life.  This book has inspired many people to start their own happiness project maybe it will inspire you too.  There is also a sequel available titled Happier at Home.

This title is available Regular print, Large print and Downloadable eBook formats. 

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Golden Age of Journalism
By:  Doris Kearns Goodwin
Recommended by Robert

While it may appear that a 900 pages dual biography of two American presidents at the turn of the 20th century would challenge even the most academic reader, the fact that the writer is Pulitzer award winner Doris Kearns makes all the difference in the world. Ms. Goodwin is the author of several well-received tomes including "Team of Rivals", upon which the film Lincoln was based. She now takes on two presidents whose terms ushered in great changes in American society. Each man was the product of a privileged upbringing but grew up with a strong sense of social justice. Compared to today's presidential aspirants, both men were well read, educated and prepared for lives in the public service.

While their lives appeared similar, there was much about their early lives that differed. Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child who was doted upon by his parents. William Howard Taft was the picture of great health whose parents expected him to prove his competence in all areas. While Roosevelt surmounted infant asthma to become the nation's symbol of vigor and energy, Taft drifted into a lifelong battle with obesity. Roosevelt had lofty political ambitions which took him from a New York  State assemblyman, the New York City Police Commissioner, the governorship of New York State and the vice-presidency under William McKinley. When war broke out with Spain in 1898, he helped form the Roughriders who gained national prominence with their charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba.

On the other hand, William Howard Taft loved the law and aspired to become a Supreme Court justice. His career took him from the Superior Court of Cincinnati, the Solicitor General of the United States and an appointment by McKinley as the Governor of the Philippines. When Roosevelt became president, he was appointed Secretary of War. Having developed a close friendship with Roosevelt, Taft succeeded to the presidency in 1908.

While Goodwin does an excellent job of portraying the achievements of each president, she does not limit her efforts to the political. We learn a lot about each man's life partners and the role they played as first ladies. We are also introduced to the role of the muckraking press which Roosevelt used to ride into office. In particular, S.S. McClure, publisher of a magazine of the same name, assembled a magnificent stable of investigative journalists which included Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens and William Allen White. Roosevelt and later Taft used the findings of these writers to attack robber barons, corrupt politicians and corporate exploiters of natural resources. During this brief period of reform, two Republican presidents (yes, Republican) used two very different styles of leadership to attack the abuses of unfettered capitalism.

It is amazing that two men whose destinies were so entwined grew so apart during the presidency of Taft. Roosevelt's continued ambition and his critical attitude toward Taft's enigmatic style as president lead to a major falling out. This grew to a head during the presidential campaign of 1912.  Both men would have to leave the political to mend their fences.

Doris Kearns Goodwin gives us more than a traditional political biography of these two presidents. The reader is brought back to the progressive era where journalists and their followers tackled the problems of society, not the lifestyles of entertainers and other "famous" people. We learn much about these two men, who they were influenced by and the era during which they thrived. We must again thank Ms. Goodwin for making the reading of history an enjoyable experience.

This title is available in Regular Print format.

Red Bones
By Ann Cleeves
Recommended by Marilyn

An island shrouded in mist and a community with secrets buried in the past . . .

When a young archaeologist studying on a site at Whalsay discovers a set of human remains, the island settlers are intrigued. Is it an ancient find - or a more contemporary mystery?

Then an elderly woman is shot in a tragic accident in the middle of the night. Shetland detective Jimmy Perez is called in by her grandson - his own colleague, Sandy Wilson.

The sparse landscape and the emptiness of the sea have bred a fierce and secretive people. Mima Wilson was a recluse. She had her land, her pride and her family. As Jimmy looks to the islanders for answers, he finds instead two feuding families whose envy, greed and bitterness have lasted generations.

Surrounded by people he doesn't know and in unfamiliar territory, Jimmy finds himself out of his depth. Then there's another death and, as the spring weather shrouds the island in claustrophobic mists, Jimmy must dig up old secrets to stop a new killer from striking again . . .

This title is available in Regular print format.

Review from


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