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Archived Staff Picks - December 2016


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Archived Staff Picks - December 2016

The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust
By: Edith Hahn Beer
Recommended by Pauline

By 1938, the Nazi influence had taken its toll on the Jewish community in Vienna. After the Aunschluss, restrictions on Jews came in waves, and to Edith Hahn and her family, the world had gone mad. As a law student at the University of Vienna, Edith was informed that she could not take her final exam because she was no longer welcomed. Soon after, she was sent to Osterburg as a slave laborer.

On June 21, 1942, she returned to Vienna and found herself without family and with few friends who would even acknowledge her. Nonetheless, with the help of an officer in the Office of Racial Affairs, she was able to assume the identity of Christina Margarethe Denner, an Aryan Christian friend. As Grete, she moved to Munich to work for the Red Cross, and met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member, who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.

In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.

Throughout her ordeal, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved photographs she took inside the labour camp, and every document and piece of paper issued to her, such as her Nazi identification, marriage certificate, and her daughter's birth certificate which listed both parents as "German-blooded."

Her collection is now housed at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

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

By: Laurence Hill
Recommended by Robert

It seems quite timely that, during the aftermath of an American presidential election when the status of illegal immigrants had become a major issue, I should review Lawrence Hill's most recent novel "The Illegal".  However, the United States can hardly be found (unless symbolically) in this novel. Keita Ali is a natural marathon runner living in the near future (2018) on a mythical island in the Indian Ocean named Zantoroland. Keita lives with his dissident journalist father and scholarly sister and is encouraged to pursue a running career. After his sister used a scholarship to study in the United States and his father is brutally murdered, Keita is obliged to leave for Freedom State, a multicultural nation aiming to stem the tide of illegal immigrants heading for its shores. Keita begins to run under the name Roger Bannister and does very well. Soon, he discovers that his sister has been lured from the United States to her homeland. He also finds himself caught between a slimy agent who demands most of his winnings and the officials at home demanding ransom money for his sister's release. Keita does, however, receive some solace from a sympathetic runner policewoman, a wheelchair-bound lesbian journalist, a grade-nine scholar with connections doing a documentary and a kindly old woman who takes him into her home.

Keita has to win enough races to satisfy his agent and save his sister. Politics rears its head as it becomes clear that the Freedom State's relationship with Zantoroland has been tainted by corruption and even murder. On the surface, Freedom's states leaders want to halt unsavory pollution of their state by Zantorolanders but they readily use the services of AfricTown, a not quite haven for illegal refugees. Will Keita be able to see the safe return of his sister or will sinister forces in both lands continue to control his fate? Labelled by many reviewers a literary thriller, "Illegal" is an intricate page turner and an allegory for all those nations which use any means at their disposal to keep outsiders out. Recommended.

This title is available in regular print, Downloadable AudioBook and ebook formats.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate
By:  Naomi Klein
Recommended by Suzanne

This is book has been described as The Bible for the environmental movement and I have to agree. It is an incredibly powerful and well researched argument that fighting climate change is very much the battle of our time. Klein does not hide her left wing ideology here but begs us to face the reality that rampant capitalism and unfettered globalization have gone off the charts at the expense of our planet. Klein deftly takes apart any stance taken by think tanks spreading the message of climate change denial accusing them of nothing less than corporate sponsored greed.

This book is a strong call for action since, as Klein says, that to suffer catastrophic climate disasters we only need to keep doing what we are doing and nothing more.

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

The Sleeping Beauty Killer
By:  Mary Higgins Clark
Recommended by Kim

The fourth thrilling installment in the bestselling Under Suspicion series from #1 New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark and American crime novelist Alafair Burke. Television producer Laurie Moran puts everything on the line to help a woman she thinks was wrongfully convicted of murder. 

Casey Carter was convicted of murdering her fiancĂ©, famed philanthropist Hunter Raleigh III, fifteen years ago. But Casey has always claimed she was innocent. Although she was charged and served out her sentence in prison, she is still living under suspicion. She hears whispers at the grocery store. She can't get a job. Even her own mother treats her like she's guilty. Her story attracts the attention of Laurie Moran and the Under Suspicion news team. It is Casey's last chance to finally clear her name and Laurie pledges to exonerate her. 

With Alex Buckley taking a break from the show and cooling his potential romance with Laurie, Under Suspicion introduces a new on-air host named Ryan Nichols. Nichols is a young legal whiz with a Harvard Law degree, Supreme Court clerkship, experience as a federal prosecutor, and regular stints on the cable news circuit. He's got a big reputation and the attitude to match it. Ryan has no problems with steering and stealing the show and even tries to stop Laurie from taking on Casey's case because he's so certain she's guilty.  Laurie must face this and more to do what she believes is right - to once and for all prove Casey's innocence, that is if she's innocent. 

The Sleeping Beauty Killer will keep you guessing until the very end.

This title is available in Regular Print.
Review from

The Secret Path
By Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire

Recommended by Rachel


Esteemed Canadian musician and writer Gord Downie, of The Tragically Hip, has teamed up with Canadian graphic artist Jeff Lemire to create the graphic novel "Secret Path". In addition, Downie has released a ten song album accompaniment to the novel.


The novel tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie's home was 400 miles away. He didn't know that. He didn't know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids--more than anyone will be able to imagine--he tried. Chanie's story is Canada's story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada's history--the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system--with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation.


This title is available as a Graphic Novel.

Review from back of book and

Truly, Madly, Guilty
By: Liane Moriarty
Recommended by Krista

In bestseller Moriarty's (Big Little Lies) latest, one small decision--going to a barbecue--reverberates through the lives of the six adults. Childhood friends Erika and Clementine couldn't be more different. Obsessive-compulsive Erika is married to Oliver; both are accountants, and they have no children. Clementine is a disorganized classical cellist with a husband, Sam, and two small children, Holly and Ruby. These two families are unexpectedly invited to a barbecue at the opulent home of Erika's neighbors: wealthy and vivacious Vid; his "smoking hot" wife, Tiffany; and their 10-year-old daughter, Dakota. During what is supposed to be an ordinary afternoon of food, drink, and lively conversation among people just beginning to become friends, a harrowing event deeply affects all these characters, forcing them to closely examine their choices, not only of that day but of their entire lives, and the effects of those choices. The novel holds back the meat of the story until the reader is about to burst with curiosity, but this technique strangely doesn't feel like torture; it gives readers a chance to consider the endless possibilities of every moment.

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

Review from Publisher's Weekly


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