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Archived Staff Picks January 2015


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Archived Staff Picks - January 2015

The Silent Sister
By:  Diane Chamberlain
Recommended by Ann

In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

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

This review from

The Tiffin
By: Mahtab Narsimhan
Recommended by Pauline

The city of Bombay, India, has a 150 year old tradition of delivering hot lunches to business workers in metal tins called tiffins. This is a complicated business and yet it has a reputation of losing only one box per every six million. The opening chapter is a flashback to a story of one such lost box and the rest of the book comes back to the present to show the consequences that lost lunch had for one person.

Kunal, who was left with the Seths as a baby, has been raised as their slave working in their restaurant with no wages, beaten by the owner and shown no love by either him or his wife. He has one customer, an old man, who is in charge of the tiffin business at the nearby rail station who eventually takes him in and gets him a job at a nice restaurant.  Kunal makes friends and can devote his time to finding his real mother and finding out why she never came back for him.

The story takes one down into the underbelly of Indian life where the poor, the orphaned, the down-on-their-luck work and survive and where the mean, nasty and or criminal prey upon them. A wonderful, heart-rending story with plenty of insight into Indian daily life and culture.

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

The Children Act
By: Ian McEwan
Recommended by Marilyn

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.

But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case--as well as her crumbling marriage--tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page.

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

This review is from

The Cinderella Murder (Under Suspicion No. 1)
By:  Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
Recommended by Kim

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program - a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected - is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the nextTelevision producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program - a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected - is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode of Under Suspicion: the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan's boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Was her disappearance connected to a controversial church that was active on campus? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered?

With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood's elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen - but is Cinderella's murderer ready for a close-up.

This title is available in Regular Print and Book on CD formats.

The Orenda
By: Joseph Boyden
Recommended by Robert

My interest in reading a novel such as Joseph Boyden's Orenda can be traced back to my unique tastes in reading as a young teen. Instead of ingesting Hardy Boys mysteries and other materials aimed at teen readers, I was fascinated by the Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper.  Set in the forests of Eastern North America, these "romantic" stories of the noble "Indians" and their interaction with Europeans stimulated my interest.

Orenda is a far more realistic and gritty portrayal of life near Lake Huron in the early part of the 17th century.  This captivating story of the interaction between French missionaries and aboriginals is told by three individuals. We are introduced to the Jesuit Pere Christophe (based on Jean de Brebeuf), who has been kidnapped by a party of Wendats and is determined to use this as an opportunity to bring Christianity to as many natives as possible. In doing so, he is both disturbed by the savagery he sees and impressed by the native sense of community.  Bird, a Wendat warrior, has raided an Iroquois settlement and has, in retribution for the loss of his own family, killed the family of a pre-teen girl.  Snow Falls, the young Haudenosaunee (the Wendat term for Iroquois), is kidnapped but hopes to avenge the loss of her own family. The narration alternates between these three characters, providing three unique points of view for the upcoming events.

While Pere Christophe learns the Wendat language and customs, he sees an opportunity to bring these people to Christ. Bird knows that tolerating the Jesuit's presence will tie his people closer to a special role in the Fur trade. Bird also knows that the Iroquois will do all it can retaliate for previous attacks and perhaps eradicate the Wendat from existence.  Snow Falls has become the reluctant replacement daughter for one Bird had earlier lost to the Haudenosaunee.  The author portrays in well researched detail daily life in the longhouse as the Wendat suffered periodic famines and the onset of European introduced disease. The description of war and the well-organized torture that followed it is not for the faint of heart. Both Wendat and Haudenosaunee used similar practices to test the bravery and hear the death songs of their victims.

 As one reads Orenda (defined as a supernatural existing in all things), one cannot help but think about Jean de Brebeuf and Ste. Marie among the Hurons. The sense of dread permeates the novel as we know that the Haudenosaunee will  eventually invade Huronia. We are just not sure which principal characters will survive the upcoming battle.  Will Bird and his medicine woman Gosling have a future together?  Will Snow Falls, a young woman now, raise her child with her young Wendat warrior?  Will Pere Christophe and his group of missionaries and French donnees be able to build a permanent Christian community in this land of the Great Lakes?  Anyone wishing to experience the world of Huronia will want to know the answers to these questions and finish this book. Recommended for readers of authentic historical fiction.  Orenda was the 2014 Canada Reads Winner.

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

Garden Spells
By:  Sarah Addison Allen
Recommended by Rachel

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind quiet house in small town, is a feisty apple tree that is rumored to be very special, famous for its prophetic fruit.  Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of the enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it....

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders in their small town. Even their garden has a reputation. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants--from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys--except for Claire's rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire's quiet life is turned upside down--along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy--if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom--or with each other. 

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own....

Available in Regular Print, Book on CD and Downloadable eBook formats.

This review is from

Heroes Are My Weakness
By: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Recommended by Hanna

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to escape housework, because once you start reading, it is tough to put down.  This book made me laughing out loud more than once.   It was an entertaining balance between humour, romance, and dark mysteries waiting to be uncovered.  The author takes a playful modern perspective to the familiar gothic romance storyline.  You have the handsome yet arrogant hero, the down-on-her-luck heroine, and an isolated village (with interfering neighbours.)  She adds the ugly manor house, the small cottage on the grounds, and a troubled, secret past, and you have all the ingredients for a late night read.  But then, the author throws in a child who doesn't speak,  annoying puppets, a heroine who plays evil (yet funny) pranks on the hero; and I found myself up to the wee hours of the morning reading instead of sleeping. 

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


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