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Archived Staff Picks- October 2013


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Archived Staff Picks - October 2013





Etiquette & Espionage
By:  Gail Carriager
Recommended by Rachel

While I am familiar with steam-punk (by which I mean I know what it is), this was my first time actually reading from the genre.  Fourteen-year-old Sophronia would much rather climb trees and spy on guests from the dumbwaiter than be a proper lady.  Until her mother sends her off to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.  But she quickly figures out Mademoiselle Geraldine's is not an ordinary finishing school.    Although there is the basics they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, household management and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage.  While learning to bat her eyelashes and time   fainting accurately Sophronia and her friends try to uncover the mystery behind a secret prototype an elder student was to acquire in order to graduate but has hidden away, refusing to say where.
I had pretty great expectations for this book and was rather let down.   It was a bit dry and not as action oriented as I suspected it would be.  It was just a never-ending list of mechanical parts, accessories and petticoats.  I did like the book but it was not one I would plan on re-reading soon.

This title is available in Young Adult Fiction and Downloadable Audiobook formats.



Starting Now (Blossom Street #9)
By:  Debbie Macomber
Recommended by Ann

This is another Blossom Street series novel yet the story capably stands on its own without reference to the preceding books.  I felt very comforted reading this novel.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

For years Libby Morgan dreamed only of making partner in her competitive, high-pressure law firm.  She sacrificed everything for her career - her friends, her marriage, her chance at creating a family.  When her boss calls Libby into his office, she assumes it will finally be good news, but nothing can prepare her for the shocking reality:  she's been let go and must rebuild her entire life ... starting now.
With no job prospects in sight, Libby reaches out to old friends and spends her afternoons at A Good Yarn, the local knitting store.  There she forms a close bond with Lydia, the sweet-natured shop owner;  Lydia's spirited teenage daughter Casey; and Casey's best friend, Ava, a shy yet troubled girl who will shape Libby's future in surprising and profound ways.
As A Good Yarn becomes second home - and the women a new kind of family - Libby relishes the different person she's become.  She even finds time for romance with a charming and handsome doctor who seems to be her perfect match.  But just as everything is coming together, Libby must make a choice that could forever change the life she holds so dear.
Warmly told and richly textured, Starting Now if filled with the promise of new beginnings and the unending delights of companionship and love.

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



Lords of the Lake
By:  Robert Malcolmson
Recommended by Robert

What usually comes to mind when one thinks about 19th century naval battles is the swashbuckling Lord Hornblower or the exploits of Lord Nelson at Trafalgar.  We probably wouldn't think about naval engagements fought on that very peaceful Lake Ontario so very close to us.  Yet a significant part of the War of 1812 that was fought between the English and American fleets was fought in our neighbouring waters.  When the United States and Britain found   themselves at war over the impressment of American sailors and trade restricitons imposed on America because of the Britain's war with France, it became clear that the control of traffic on Lake Ontario would be a key element in American invasion efforts and the defensive efforts of the British.  Each side began to assemble small fleets to achieve these goals.
The author introduces us to the major and even minor figures of each navy.  The British are led by Commodore James Yeo, a reticent but determined leader.  The Americans looked to Isaac Chauncey as the man who would defeat the vaunted British navy.  A cat and mouse war of nerves ensued as a variety of vessels attempted to lure their foes into difficult situations.  Jealousy and intrigue beset each side as the control of Lake Ontario will impact greatly on the conduct of the war.    Kingston, Ontario and Sacketts Harbor, New York grow into formidable naval  bastions.  The enemy's inablity to destroy either of these fortresses   would lead to a stalemate.  This result would actually ensure the continued existence of British North America.
This nonfiction tome will appeal to readers of naval fiction and nonfiction.  The descriptions of battle, blockades, chases and shipwrecks are absorbing and dramatic.  One soon realizes that the destruction of Kingston was an American goal and that the efforts to protect it prevented the successful invasion of Canada.  Although the war of the lakes ended in a draw, it was that kind of draw that helped spawn what we know as Canada.  Exciting history did not only occur in faraway places: some of it actually took place in our back yard.


This title is   available in Regular Print.



How the Light Gets In
By:  Louise Penny
Recommended by Marilyn

A four-day blizzard has left the village of Three Pines looking like a toy town sheltered under a snow globe.  But this secluded Canadian hamlet, tucked away in a valley deep in the mountains, contributes more than its picturesque setting to Louise Penny's latest mystery.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec, the honorable detective in this series, often visits the village just to let its eccentric but kindhearted residents restore his faith in humanity.  This time the inspector comes looking for something more - a safe haven.  Demoralized and increasingly isolated, Gamache is battling an unscrupulous superior.  "We've killed his career, his department.  We've killed his credibility and broken his spirit," gloats one of the man's conspirators.  But when the safety of two loyal friends is compromised by their undercover research into rampant police corruption, Gamache is able to spirit them away to Three Pines.
"There remained pockets of Québec where phones were still attached to the walls," we're told.  Since Three Pines occupies one of these zones, where cellphones and laptops go dead, it's almost invisible in the deep darkness of the heavily forested mountains.  But the only way to thwart the dastardly schemes (to dastardly for credibility) of that monstrous villain (too monstrous to be true) is to set up a satellite link to the outside world.  How can Gamache ask dear friends like Myrna Landers, who owns the bookstore, and Gabri and Olivier, the gay couple who operate the B&B, to assist in the ruination of their village?
Once met, the delightfully quirky inhabitants of Three Pines are the kind of people you can't wait to see again, and the characters Gamache imports from   Montreal are peculiar enough to fit right in with the locals.  But they all seem better suited to the modestly scaled subplot about the murder of a friend of Myrna's, the last of five world-famous sisters, much like the Dionne quintuplets, who became symbols of hope to a nation struggling to survive the Depression.

This title is available in Regular Print, Large Print, Book on   CD and Downloadable AudioBook formats. 
Review is from "New York Times Book Review".





Jack the Giant Slayer (DVD)
Recommended by Kathy

"Jack the Giant Slayer" is a rousing, original and thoroughly entertaining adventure.  Director Bryan Singer, a first-rate cast and a stellar team of screenwriters, set designers and special-effects wizards have dusted off an old and (let's face it) never particularly compelling fairy tale and have given us a great-looking thrill ride in which we actually care about a number of characters."
Richard Roeper (Roger

In this adaptation   of the classic fairy-tale, Jack lives with his resentful uncle, on a tenant farm in the mythical kingdom of Cloister.  Cloister is ruled by the   benevolent King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), who has decreed that his daughter Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) will marry the evil Roderick (Stanley Tucci).  Through a series of misfortunes, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) ends up with a handful of beans, and has been instructed to guard against them becoming wet.  As a matter of course, one of the beans ends up falling through cracks in the floor of Jack's house, getting wet and, consequently sprouts into a forbidding beanstalk.  Thereby the stage is set for epic battles waged respectively in the giant's domain and then in the kingdom of Cloister.  It's left up to Jack to save the princess and the kingdom from the rage of the giants.  Along with the help of the brave knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Jack defeats nefarious Roderick and defends Cloister when the giants descend the beanstalk, threatening first to demolish Cloister and then the other surrounding kingdoms.  For his role in saving the kingdom, King Brahmwell grants Jack his blessing to marry Isabelle.

This title is   available in DVD format.



The Poisonwood Bible
By:  Barbara Kingsolver
Recommended by Pauline

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.  They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture   - is calamitously transformed on African soil.  What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa.
The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy.  Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband's part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability.  Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters - the self centered, teenaged Rachel;   shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old.  These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father's intractable mission, and by   Africa itself.  Ultimately each must strike her own separated path to salvation.  Their passionatley intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responisibilty.

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



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