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Archived Staff Picks - February 2013


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Archived Staff Picks - February 2013

Two Graves
By: Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child
Recommended by Marilyn

Preston and Child's high-adrenaline 12th thriller featuring maverick FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast wraps up the trilogy that began with 2010's Fever Dream and continued with 2011's Cold Vengeance with a bang. Just as Pendergast is reunited one evening in Manhattan's Central Park with his beloved wife, Helen, who he thought died 12 years earlier, Helen falls victim to a gang of well-organized kidnappers. Despite Pendergast's impressive combination of brains and brawn as well as network of helpers, his efforts to rescue Helen don't play out as he anticipated. Meanwhile, a serial murderer dubbed the Hotel Killer has been targeting guests of Manhattan hotels, mutilating his victims and leaving behind a piece of his own body (e.g., a finger, an ear lobe) to taunt the NYPD. Given the growing cast of characters and their complex backstories, those already familiar with the bestselling authors' fictional world will most enjoy this intelligent suspense novel.
I enjoy the Pendergast series with its interesting characters and have followed them all the way through.

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

Hope Springs
Recommended by Kathy

Hope Springs is a film directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada; Marley and Me) and starring Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady; Julie and Julia), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln; Men in Black) and Steve Carell (The Office; 40 year Old Virgin).
Following a stale celebration for their 30th wedding anniversary, Kay (Streep), realizing how much of a rut her husband and herself are in when it comes to their relationship, chooses to read a book written by Dr. Feld (Carell). Deciding to sign up for the doctor's intensive, one-week marriage course in Great Hope Springs, Kay convinces her unenthusiastic husband (Jones) to attend the sessions with her, in the hope of discovering some way to reconnect with each other. Following their arrival in Great Hope springs the film focuses on the therapy sessions led by Dr. Feld and the couple's attempts to bridge the gulf that has developed between them. Sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant, this film illustrates a critical juncture in one couple's marriage.

This title is available in DVD formats.

The Book Thief
By: Markus Zusak
Recommended by Pauline

Narrated by Death, The Book Thief takes us on a remarkable journey alongside the residents of one small street of one small town in war-torn Germany.
Liesel Meminger is a little girl lost when she arrives at a strange house on Himmel Street, feeling confused and alienated by a war she doesn't understand. her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, soon make her feel at home, although Hans' gentle character is in stark contrast to his wife's brusque embrace of motherhood.
Liesel befriends a boy who lives along the street, Rudy Steiner, and the two become inseparable. Important events such as Hitler's birthday, book burning ceremonies and the horrors and destruction of the war unfolding in Europe's fields and skies, are wound around day-to-day life for Liesel, Rudy and the other residents of Himmel Street.
Liesel struggles at first to read and write, but with Hans' soft coaxing and dedicated coaching she is captivated by the world of words. Slowly but surely, Liesel begins to link the incredible power of words to the way Hitler is controlling and slowly destroying her homeland. Books become Liesel's lifeline, and she finds solace in words when she befriends the Mayor's wife, who lets her read in their well-stocked library. Each of the books that come into Liesel's life has a special significance; she treasures links to her past and the comforting daily reading lessons with Hans.
As Liesel tries to come to terms with the significance of Hitler's rule, the Hubermanns' daily cycle of survival is jeopardized when a Jewish refugee, Max, begs a hiding place in their basement. The family struggle to keep their dangerous secret safe, and to keep Max alive in the achingly cold cellar. Liesel's friendship with Max slowly grows, and through their shared love of words he becomes a brother figure to her. She's devastated when Max has to leave; it's no longer safe for him to stay. Soon afterwards he is captured and marched along Himmel Street to the nearby concentration camp, to Liesel's despair.
As the war rips the country apart, and Allied bombs fall perilously close to Himmel Street, Liesel realizes that words alone will never be enough to save the people she loves. But perhaps they can shine a brighter light on the beauty of human tenderness and compassion that still resist the hatred inflicted by Hitler and war.
The Book Thief is about growing up in Nazi Germany. But it's also about hope, love, family, rebelliousness, guilt, the human spirit and the beauty that tragedy can bring.

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

By: Daniel Kraus
Recommended by Rachel

Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey's life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.
Everything changes when Joey's mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey's father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey's life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.
Sixteen-year-old Joey Crouch is the quintessential underdog you will cheer him on even through the creepiest parts.
Daniel Kraus' masterful plotting and unforgettable characters make Rotters a moving, terrifying, and unconventional epic about fathers and sons, complex family ties, taboos, and the ever-present specter of mortality.

This title is available Young Adult Fiction and Downloadable Ebook formats.
Parts of this review are from

The Perfect Hope
#3 - Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy
By: Nora Roberts
Recommended by Kim

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out - with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He's surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro...
As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn't mean she can't appreciate the joys of small-town living. She's where she wants to be - except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder who always seems to get under her skin. Still no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them ... a spark that ignited with a New Year's Eve kiss.
While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope's experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome - and embarrassing - appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder's emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him ...
This is the final book in the Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy and it was worth the wait. Nora Roberts trilogies tend to be different from her stand alone novels - she seems to add more romance to the story - which is not a bad thing. Anyone who enjoys a good romance will enjoy this series.

This title is available in Book, Large Print and Book on CD formats.
Part of this review is from


If Wishes Were Horses
By: Robert Barclay
Recommended by Ann

In this unforgettable novel of love, hope and second chances, a grieving man's personal plan for redemption is suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside down...
Wyatt Blaine's 35th birthday party was in full swing as his wife, Krista and young son Danny, left to get ice cream for Wyatt. A short time later the phone rang with the devastating news that Krista and Danny's car had been hit by a drunk driver and they both died on the way to the hospital. Wyatt would carry the guilt of their deaths with him for sending Krista and their son out that fateful night.
Wyatt decided, in Krista's memory, to start up her pet project "New Beginnings Program" to help troubled teens and assigning them a horse to care for 1/2 the day and the other 1/2 of the day to speak with psychologists about their feelings for a period of 12 weeks. Although Wyatt needed at least 30 kids to start off the program there was one huge obstacle causing Wyatt some major anxiety.
Wyatt's pastor asks for the impossible - for Wyatt to meet with Gabby Powers, the widow of the man responsible for the accident, and accept her troubled son, Trevor, into the program. Wyatt reluctantly agrees.
To his great surprise, Wyatt finds himself drawn to Gabby. But to heal completely, Wyatt and Gabby must first overcome the common tragedy that separates them and learn the true nature of forgiveness.

This title is available in Book and Downloadable Ebook formats.


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