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archived staff picks - June 2017

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A Separation
By: Katie Kitamura
Recommended by Marilyn

A mesmerizing, psychologically taut novel about a marriage's end and the secrets we all carry. 

A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it's time for them to separate. For the moment it's a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she's not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild landscape, she traces the disintegration of their relationship, and discovers she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love.

A story of intimacy and infidelity, A Separation is about the gulf that divides us from the lives of others and the narratives we create for ourselves. As the narrator reflects upon her love for a man who may never have been what he appeared, Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on the brink of catastrophe. A Separation is a riveting stylistic masterpiece of absence and presence that will leave the reader astonished, and transfixed.

This title is available in Regular Print, Downloadable eBook and Audiobook formats.
Review from www.goodreads.com

Aping Mankind
By: Raymond Tallis
Recommended by Emily

 

"In this brilliant critique Raymond Tallis dismantles "Neuromania", arising out of the idea that we are reducible to our brains and "Darwinitis" according to which, since the brain is an evolved organ, we are entirely explicable within an evolutionary framework. With precision and acuity he argues that the belief that human beings can be understood in biological terms is a serious obstacle to clear thinking about what we are and what we might become. Combative, fearless and thought-provoking, Aping Mankind is an important book and one that scientists, cultural commentators and policy-makers cannot ignore." 

 

This title is available in Regular Print.
This from review by publisher.

Justice for Sara
By:  Erica Spindler
Recommended by Kim

When seventeen-year-old Katherine McCall awakened one morning to find her beloved sister, Sara, brutally murdered, her whole life changed in the blink of an eye. Kat was named the prime suspect and, on a string of circumstantial evidence, charged and tried. While the jury found her innocent, not everyone else agreed, and her only choice was to go into hiding. But she carried a dark secret with her, one that made her worry she might actually have had something to do with Sara's death . . .

Now, years later, Kat is still haunted by her sister's unsolved murder and continues to receive chilling anonymous letters, but she has tried to move on with her life. Until, on the tenth anniversary of Sara's death, she receives a letter that makes the past impossible to ignore: "What about justice for Sara?" What about justice for Sara? And for herself?  Kat realizes that going back to Liberty, Louisiana, might be the only way to move forward and find some peace. And there's a killer out there who was never caught.

But the town she's come back to is hardly different from the one she left. The secrets and suspicions still run deep. Kat has an ally in Detective Luke Tanner, son of the former Liberty police chief, but he may be her only one. With plenty of enemies, no one to trust and a killer determined to keep a dark secret buried, Kat must decide if justice is worth fighting--and dying--for.

This is my first time reading this author and I know it won't be my last.

This title is available in Regular Print, Book on CD, Downloadable eBook and AudioBook formats.
Review from www.goodreads.com.

Murder on the Serpentine
By:  Anne Perry
Recommended by Janet

 

Murder on the Serpentine is an exciting, tense story with a compelling plot.

London, 1899: Head of Special Branch Commander Thomas Pitt is summoned to Buckingham Palace.

 

In the twilight of her years, Queen Victoria as all too aware that the Prince of Wales will soon inherit her empire and must be beyond reproach. She tells Pitt she tasked her close friend and confidante, John Halberd, with investigating the Prince's friends, specifically Alan Kendrick, a wealthy playboy and betting man, but before he could report back, Halberd was found dead in a rowing boat on the Serpentine.

 

The death has been ruled an unfortunate accident and the investigation closed, but the Queen is not convinced that all is as it seems and tasks Pitt with finding the truth.

 

Forced to act alone in this most sensitive of investigations Pitt cannot tell Charlotte what is happening, but that doesn't keep her from deducing who and what is involved. The reputations of men, but also the safety and reputation of the Empire are in jeopardy.

 

This is an enjoyable, entertaining read with much period detail and realistic characters woven seamlessly together.

 

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

Seveneves
By: Neal Stephenson
Recommended by Robert

A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Robert Sawyer answer the question, "What is the difference between science fiction and fantasy?" Mr. Sawyer asserted vigourously that while fantasy is based on things which could not exist, science fiction uses scientific fact as the basis for its stories. I must admit that I do much prefer a story with authentic human characters that respond to something that could happen. This is certainly the case in Neal Stephenson's Seveneves.  An unknown agent has exploded earth's moon, creating seven major parts which begin to crash against each other, eventually entering earth's atmosphere and falling to the earth. As large numbers of these fragments fall upon the earth's surface, a white sky develops and a hard rain of bolides results in the atmosphere heating to incandescence and the oceans boiling away. Within two years, earth will be inhabitable. The planet's scientists and space agencies have devised a means of saving the human race. During these two years, the ISS (international Space Station will become the focus for a Cloud Ark inhabited by specialists and a representation of a few thousand young people from every nation on earth, who would hopefully be the genesis for mankind's survival. As earth's doom looms, new forms of government are imposed upon the exiles. It is hoped that this group will find the means of permanent survival to return to a habitable earth in about 5,000 years or so.

However, things do not go as planned. A series of accidents, misadventures and actual strife result in only eight women remaining, one having passed the age of menopause. (Hence, there are Seveneves who have been able to save their DNA for future human reproduction). They are able to move their Ark to the Cleft, a protected iron center of one of the moon's major pieces. It is here that the human race will regenerate itself. These seven women become the basis of seven distinct races which will wait for a few thousand years before the earth can become habitable again. By this time, about 3 billion humans inhabit rings around the planet. These populations are as divided as ever and greatly differ on their intentions to move to the new Earth. Did anyone survive on the Earth during the original extinction? Will all of the existing races be able to co-exist?

This Neal Stephenson novel is not a quick afternoon read. Its 860 or so pages are laden with scientific detail which forced me to research later.  Nevertheless, its epic proportions stimulate one's thoughts about how mankind would respond to such an Armageddon. The author provides excellent character description and its plot is intense. While it does not claim to be the first in a series, it would not surprise me to see a sequel pop up in the future. I would be keen to read it. Recommended for serious sci-fi fans and anyone wondering what the future could look like.

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

The Stories We Tell
By: Patti Callahan Henry
Recommended by Pauline

Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah's power couple. They're on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people.  The lucky ones.  And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family.
But things may not be as good as they seem.
Eve's sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets "back on her feet." Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories--what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates--Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she's going to do about it.

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

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