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Archived Staff Picks - April 2012


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April 2012 - Archived Staff Picks

I am the Messenger

by: Markus Zusak
Recommended by Rachel

I am the messenger is based around a brilliant concept. Random acts of kindness and in some cases, vengeance. Meet Ed Kennedy - underage cabdriver, pathetic card player, useless at romance, and hopelessly in love with his best friend Audrey. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That's when the first Ace arrives. That's when Ed becomes the messenger ... Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission? Winner of the 2003 Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia. I am the Messenger is a cryptic journey filled with laughter, fists and love. An amazing adventure!
This title is available in Young Adult Fiction.
Parts of this review are from this titles Book Jacket.


By: Frances Itani
Recommended by Marilyn

Frances Itani is a Canadian author and I read this book a number of years ago. It stuck with me as it takes place locally and you can visualize their movement from one place to another. War and deafness are the twin themes of this psychologically rich, impeccably crafted debut novel set during WWII. Born in the late 19th century, Grania O'Neill comes from solid middle-class stock, her father a hotel owner in Deseronto, Ontario, her mother a God-fearing daughter of an Irish immigrant. When Grania is five, she loses her hearing to scarlet fever. When she is nine, she is sent to the Ontario Institution for the Deaf and Dumb in Belleville and given an education not only in lip reading, signing and speaking but also in emotional self-sufficiency. After graduation, she works as a nurse in the Belleville hospital, where she meets and falls in love with Jim Lloyd. They marry, but Jim is bound for the war as a stretcher bearer. His war is hell on earth: lurid wounds; stinks; sudden, endless slaughter redeemed only by comradeship. Itani's remarkably vivid unflinching descriptions of his ordeal tend to overshadow Grania's musings on the home front, but Grania's story comes to the fore again when her brother-in-law and childhood friend, Kenan, comes back to Deseronto from the trenches in Europe with a dead arm and a half-smashed face, refusing to speak. Grania, who was educated to configure sounds she couldn't hear into words that "the hearing" could understand, brings Kenan back to life by teaching him sounds again, and then by making portraits of the people in the town whom she, Kenan and her sister Tress know in common. As she talks to Kenan, she reinvigorates him with a sense that his life, having had such a rich past, must have a future, too. This subplot eloquently expresses Itani's evident, pervasive faith in the unexpected power of story to not only represent life but to enact itself within lives. Her wonderfully felt novel is a timely reminder of war's cost, told from an unexpected perspective.
This title is available in Book and Large Print formats.
Review is from

The Kane Chronicles (Series)
 By: Rick Riordan
Recommended by Pauline

Be careful what you summon! In ancient times, the magicians of Egypt were recognized as the best in the world. Each god's temple had a branch called the House of Life, where magicians were trained to battle monsters, duel enemy sorcerers, and when necessary, even do combat with the gods themselves. What if the House of Life still existed? When a magical accident unleashes the Egyptian gods into the modern world, Carter and Sadie Kane discover that they are descended from the most powerful Egyptian magicians, and only they have the power to set things right! Join their adventures against the mythical forces of Ancient Egypt in The Kane Chronicles. Titles in the series are as follows: Book 1: The red pyramid Book 2: The throne of fire Book 3: The serpent's shadow (May 2012)
This title is available in Young Adult Book, CD, and downloadable Audiobook formats.
Review from


The Madman and the Butcher: the Sensational
By: Tim Cook
Recommended by Robert
Recently, the last Canadian soldier from the First World War has departed and this conflict has faded into what many now consider ancient history. While we may be impressed by Remembrance Day services and the stirring images of cenotaphs, most of us have forgotten Canada's principal military figures of the Great War. In the "Madman and the Butcher", First World War historian of the Canadian War Museum Tim Cook has created a portrait of two towering figures of the conflict, Sir Sam Hughes and Sir Arthur Currie. We are introduced to Sam Hughes, a militia trained veteran and hero of the Boer war from Lindsay, Ontario who rose to prominence as Canada's war minister under Sir Robert Borden. Hughes, an extremely partisan Orangeman, worked feverishly to create a Canadian Army that would firm up the British Empire in its greatest time of need. Sir Sam would use his strong political linkages to build a vast expeditionary force and equip it with the help of his favoured manufactures. In doing so, he would alienate non-Tories or anyone who challenged his decisions and favouritism. His extreme reactions to these challenges would stir many to refer to him as a "madman". The other focus of Mr. Cook's study is Sir Arthur Currie, the insurance salesman and militiaman who rose steadily in the ranks to become the most respected and effective general in Canada's army. An uncommon soldier with a pear-shaped body and a stiff manner, Arthur Currie recognized that victory in the trenches of World War I demanded great organization and coordination between infantry and artillery. Curries's professionalism in the face of enormous carnage attracted the favour of senior British generals. It did not, however, satisfy Mr. Hughes, angered that his son Garnet and other poor performing favourites were not achieving positions of prominence. Sam Hughes responded by declaring Currie a butcher, a callous murderer of his own men. As the war dragged on, Sam Hughes found himself an angry backbencher, thundering about the plight of "his" soldiers. Hurt by the allegations of butchery and probably a victim of post traumatic stress syndrome, General Currie left the military and put his organizational talents into rebuilding a struggling McGill University. Although Sir Sam is felled by a stroke in 1921, the spirit of recrimination results in a libel charge brought by Currie against a Port Hope newspaper. Tim Cook has chronicled the two kinds of wars of Sir Sam and Sir Arthur, the war of blood and the war of politics. While Sam Hughes used politics to create a Canadian army that reflected his own vision of Canada, Arthur Currie strived to create an army that rewarded talent, not connections. Cook's description of trench warfare is vivid and gut wrenching. He portrays Currie and Hughes as both dynamic and flawed individuals who reflected the styles and prejudices of their times. It is indeed fascinating that Canada's greatest "hero" of World War I had to prove that he was not a butcher. Anyone who enjoys war history, but wishes to also understand the importance of these men to the Canadian war effort with find this book very interesting. Recommended.
This title is available in Book, Book on CD and Downloadable Ebook formats.

Death Echo
By: Elizabeth Lowell
Recommended by Kim

Emma Cross left the CIA because she wanted to lead a "normal" life. A quiet one, investigating things that weren't life or death. St. Kilda Consulting put her to work investigating the theft of a yacht. What could be less urgent than the loss of a rich man's toy? MacKenzie Durand walked away from a career in the military after bad intel cost the life of everyone on his special ops team except himself. He was tired of life or death situations where death won. Now his biggest worry is taking yachts from Seattle to a boat dealer in Rosario, Washington. Now Emma and Mac find themselves neck deep in mirror-image yachts, international gangsters, and things worse than simple murder. Before they know it, they are back in the world they thought they left behind, fighting for their lives. This is the fifth book in the "St. Kilda Series" by Elizabeth Lowell and I would recommend that if you enjoy reading Romantic Suspense you will not be disappointed by this series. Start with the first book in the series "Always time to die".
This title is available in Book and Book on CD formats.
This review is from






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