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Archived Staff Picks November 2012


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Archived Staff Picks - November 2012


Detachment - DVD
A Film By: Tony Kaye
Recommended by Kathy

A 2011 motion picture starring Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Detachment is a gritty urban drama showcasing the state of the New York school system.
Brody, who is also an executive producer of the film, plays a substitute teacher, Henry Barthes, sent into a city high school for a one-month period. In a country that espouses "No child left behind" there are many students left behind and many teachers not knowing where to turn or how to communicate with the student body. Unsympathetic school administrators are only concerned with how to make the students' test scores look better and are ignorant to the challenges faced by school principals and teachers.
Barthes month in the school is spent connecting with the teachers and the students, all of whom face personal or professional crisis. On a personal level, Barthes befriends one wayward teenaged girl he finds on the streets (Sami Gayle), taking her in and hoping to find her the help she needs to reform her life. Barthes is futher challenged when having to cope with a dying grandfather and the secrets harboured by him.
Also starring Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack), Lucy Liu (Elementary), Blythe Danner and James Caan, Detachment is a disturbing film dealing with a subject all of scoiety should be concerned about.

This title is available in DVD format.

Blood Red Road (Dustlands #1)
By: Moira Young
Recommended by Pauline

Young's powerful debut, first in the Dustlands series, is distinguished by its postapocalyptic setting and intrguing prose style and strong narrative voice. When 18-year-old Saba's father is killed and her twin brother, Lugh, is kidnapped, she sets out to rescue him, along with their younger sister, Emmi, and Saba's intelligent raven, Nero. Their travels across the desert wasteland bring them to a violent city in which Saba is forced to fight for her life in an arena. When she escapes with the help of a group of women warriors, she and her new allies (including a handsome and infuriating male warrior named Jack) try to prevent Lugh from being sacrificed. Young's writing style - channeled through Saba's wonderfully defined narrative voice - may be off-putting at first, but readers will quickly get used to the lack of quotation marks and idosyncratic spelling and punctuation ("There ain't nuthin written in the stars. They're jest lights in the sky") and be riveted by the book's fast-paced mix of action and romance. It's a natural for Hunger Games fans. Ages 14 - up.

This title is available in Young Adult Book and Downloadable Ebook formats.

The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
By: Jane Smiley
Recommended by Robert

If you have been reading my reviews on a regular basis, you may have noticed my preference for historical fiction. As I perused the works of American novelist Jane Smiley, I was attracted to her novel about the experiences of a woman in the chaotic world of 1850 Kansas Territory. Lidie Harkness of Quincy, Illinois is a tall, plain woman capable of riding a horse and handling a rifle. Lidie meets Thomas Newton, a mild mannered Yankee abolitionist, and marries him after a short, and less than overwhelming courtship. Thomas is a man on a mission to join other abolitionists in the Kansas Territory and before long takes his new bride to claim a homestead and help ensure that Kansas will become a free state without slavery. Upon arrival in Lawrence, Kansas, they soon become immersed in the maelstrom of violence between Free Staters and Missouri slaveholders. The couple barely escapes atrocities as they make their way to their property outside Lawrence. Wandering groups of quick tempered youths deal their form of justice to those whose ideals do not match their own. Lidie's spirit of independence serves her well as cold-blooded violence invades her own circle. Using disguises and new identities, Lidie is determined to deliver justice to those responsible for her loss. In doing so, she must travel to Missouri and learns much about the institution of slavery. In a moment of distress, Lidie is taken in by a generous family which own slaves. She must deal with the fact that sweet generous people fervently believe that slavery is just and should be extended throughout the West. Lidie's sense of justice puts her in great peril as she strives to escape Missouri.
It has been noted by a few reviewers that Lidie Newton is a female Huck Finn, whose adventures portray the kind of strife that beset the West prior to the Civil War. Lidie is articulate, brave and has a good heart which is often needed as attempts to avoid the violent interactions of a chaotic male society. Jane Smiley has created a character of great strength and fortitude. We become eager to discover whether she will survive her trials.

This title is available in Book and Downloadable Ebook formats.

Low Pressure
By: Sandra Brown
Recommended by Kim

Bellamy Lyston Price was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy's fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene as well as her memory of one vital fact that still eludes her...
Now 18 years later, Bellamy has written a novel based on Susan's murder. It's her first book, and it's an instant sensation. But because the novel is based on the most traumatic event of her life, she's published it under a pseudonym to protect herself and her family.
But when a sleazy reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on a real crime, Bellamy's identity - and dark family secrets - are exposed. Suddenly, she finds herself embroiled in a personal conflict and at the mercy of her sister's killer, who for almost two decades has gotten away with murder ... and will stop at nothing to keep it that way.
I really love it when a mystery keeps me wondering right until the end who the killer is and once again Sandra Brown did not disappoint me.

This title is available in Book, Large Print, Book on CD and Downloadable Ebook formats.
This review is from

Dead and Buried
By: Stephen Booth
Recommended by Marilyn

As moorland fires sweep across the Peak District national park, hundreds of firefighters and park rangers battle to prevent flames reaching a remote inn, once a famous landmark but now abandoned and boarded up. The blaze is just one of a series of random acts of arson which have destroyed miles of heather moorland - and once the flames have died, a grim surprise awaits DS Ben Cooper and DI Diane Fry: a body - dead for years ... I have read other books by Stephen Booth and enjoy the light mystery with some twists
The descripiton of the moors is very appealing. I enjoy reading because it takes me to places I have not seen in person but may like to go to one day.

This title is available in Book format.

At Home in Mitford
By: Jan Karon
Recommended by Ann

I read this series a number of years ago and have recommended it to many friends and family since. At Home in Mitford is the first in this series with eight others to follow.
Father Tim, a cherished small-tow rector, is the steadfast soldier in this beloved slice of life story set in an American village. The rector's forthright secretary, Emma Garret, worries about her employer, as she sees past his Christian cheerfulness into his aching loneliness. Slowly but surely, the empty places in Father Tim's heart do get filled. First with a gangly stray dog, later with a seemingly stray boy, and finally with the realization that he is stumbling into love with his independent and Christian-wise next-door neighbor.
You will laugh, cry and feel comforted in knowing the characters of the book and the village in which they reside.

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


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