Staff Choices

Posted by Alisa S on 12/26/18
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It is always a pleasure to discover a new mystery series that is not only well plotted but features engaging characters, and
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, while only first in a planned series, holds much promise. This debut, set in both gritty Galway and the more bucolic Irish countryside, follows police detective Cormac Reilly as he tries to unravel a cold case involving a suspicious death that haunts him years later. 
McTiernan, a former Irish lawyer now residing in Australia, has drawn comparisons to fellow Irish crime writer Tana French. The Ruin, with its complex characters, page-turning mystery, and evocative sense of place,  proves that McTiernan is worthy of this comparison. 
Posted by LucyS on 12/20/18
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Entrepreneur, author and independent shopkeeper Lisa Ludwinski is making a difference at Sister Pie Bakery located within Detroit, a city that has been buffeted with financial and community woes. Her business model is worthy of admiration. She follows a triple-bottom-line business ethic of working to support her employees, the environment and the economy including a “pie-it-forward” program. A deep sense of place and pride is felt through the beautifully photographed pages. Each recipe has a narrative of how it came to be.

Check out Sister Pie if you would like to experiment with new savory and pastry recipes with unusual flavor combinations and to be encouraged to use good quality ingredients. I made the buckwheat chocolate chip cookie recipe without telling my family it was gluten free – no complaints were heard. A wonderful example of someone following their passion, translating it into a successful career.
Posted by SherriT on 12/07/18
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It is that time of year again! Time for binge watching the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie lineup. If you are like me and love the guilty pleasure of knowing there is a happy ending with a kiss under the mistletoe, than you will love Karen Schaler’s book, Christmas Camp.

Workaholic Haley Hansen's idea of a perfect Christmas is a trip to the Caribbean with her sunscreen in one hand and her laptop in the other. She is determined to focus on her career and make partner at the advertising agency where she works. In order to do this she needs to land the coveted Tyler Toys' account. The problem is Tyler Toys represent traditional Christmas values, so as research she goes to Christmas Camp to find her holiday spirit.

Upon arrival at the camp, Haley immerses herself in all things Christmas. Because she must have that certificate, Haley reluctantly participates. However, with the help of Jeff Jacoby, who is son of the camp owner, and the other guests, she slowly discovers the Christmas spirit. Jeff is your classic strong, male character, handsome and closed off. Haley and Jeff’s banter makes for a funny and cute story that was easy to follow and even easier to fall in love with.
This delightful story is light and entertaining and definitely puts you in the Christmas spirit!
Posted by bpardue on 12/06/18
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Can is considered one of the core "krautrock" bands emerging from Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their contemporary influence can't be overstated--namechecking Can gives musicians instant hipster chic. One band, The Mooney Suzuki, went so far as to name itself after two of the group's legendary singers. All Gates Open is really two books in one. In the first, Rob Young pens a highly-detailed standard history of the group, tracing the four core members' origins in the classical, jazz and avant-garde music scenes of the 1960s, through the legendary periods with singers Malcom Mooney and Damo Suzuki brought into the fold, on to their expanded lineup of the late 1970s with ex-members of Traffic. Each album and tour is dissected and analyzed, all against the backdrop of the band members' personal relationships and business dealings. It's a dense read, but one that fans will enjoy. The "second book" is really an extensive set of interviews and essays, mostly centering around keyboardist/composer Irmin Schmidt, the group's one surviving founding member. I found this a bit less essential, but will still be valuable to in-depth fans.
Posted by Alisa S on 11/26/18
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A sweet and serendipitous tale of love at first sight, One Day in December by Josie Silver is sure to please fans of contemporary romance novels. Laurie first spies Jack on the street from a fogged up window of a London doubledecker. While she is sure they had a meaningful connection in that split second, he seems lost to her forever once the bus pulls away. But fate brings them together in the most awkward of ways, and the novel follows their star-crossed relationship over ten years, as the rigors and realities of adulthood further complicate their lives.
This book is a light read that is perfect for the hectic holiday season. 
Posted by LucyS on 11/16/18
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What does it mean to be an exile? What weight does it carry? How much of your identity is wrapped around a place? Next Year in Havana is both the title of this book and a toast, a wish for the future, spoken by those who have left and hope to return.
Forced to flee in 1959, the Perez family came to the United States when the political tides shifted in Cuba. Told in two timelines. In the present day, the main character, Marisol, travels to Cuba to bring her grandmother’s ashes home. As she explores Havana and the surrounding countryside she uncovers a treasure trove of family history. Written with nostalgia, pride and hope intermingled with romance, high society life, rebellion, and secrecy. 

Author Chanel Cleeton grew up on family stories of her own family's departure from Cuba. This story provides an intriguing viewpoint of a country located only 90 miles away.

Posted by jlasky on 11/14/18
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Joseph, a college student at UC Berkeley, receives a mysterious package from Cairo, the home of his birth father. Although he was raised in the states by his Jewish mother, he spent several summers in Cairo traversing a completely different culture and lifestyle with his Muslim relatives.

The package leads him on an adventure that peels back the rich history of his ancestors on both sides. Going back a thousand years, the Muslim men in his family kept watch over the sacred Ezra Scrolls in a small synagogue in Cairo, the same synagogue where his parents met. The story is helped along by two British sisters at the end of the 19th century, who travel to Egypt to rescue sacred texts.

In “The Last Watchman of Old CairoMichael David Lukas weaves a remarkable tale of various traditions, cultures and religions through the centuries. Vivid scenery, mysticism, love, devotion and richly developed characters make this a tale you will find hard to put down.
Posted by jonf on 11/08/18
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The compelling story of the Apollo 8 mission told by Robert Kurson, the talented author of "Crashing Through" and "Shadow Divers". The author at a visit to the Museun of Science and Industry saw a small capsule from this mission and was moved to tell their story. In 1968 with America in turmoil, NASA sped up the launch of Apollo 8 to make sure Americans were the first to fly , orbit and return from the moon.
The mission was rushed and gave Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders only 4 months to prepare. It was a staggering challenge for a mission with little margin for error. Kurson does a great job telling not only the technological challenge, but the hardship for the astronauts and their families.
Rocket Men is a excellent, well written story of an overlooked mission, which was more dangerous  and impactful than the moon landing itself. A great book for fans of adventure and exploration, highly recommended.
Posted by Alisa S on 10/29/18
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Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone is an epic story of a family that moves to remote Alaska in the mid 1970s. Ernt Allbright is a charismatic but violent Vietnam vet, suffering from PTSD and drinking far too much. He alternates between adoring and abusing his lovely wife Cora, she herself totally co-dependent and going along with anything he decides in order to keep an uneasy peace. Their young daughter Leni is  thus dragged about the West coast, from home to home, school to school, as they follow each hopeless scheme her father comes up with in order to eke out a living. When he discovers he has inherited a cabin and land in Alaska from a fellow POW who never made it home, it seems to be the solution to all of their problems.
Of course, if everything worked out that easily this book would have ended well before its 400+ pages.

Alaska (as much a character as any of the people in this story) reveals herself to be stunningly beautiful but unmerciful in her brutality. Human life can be wiped out in an instant there, as the Allbrights, who arrive woefully unprepared to live in this rugged environment, soon realize. A rag-tag community of fellow pioneers quickly come to their rescue, and new friendships as well as bitter rivalries are soon formed.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" as the saying goes, and how each of the Allbright family respond to the mental and physical challenges of this harsh world makes up most of this novel. Hannah is not a particularly elegant writer, but she is an amazing storyteller. I loved following Leni's adventures and learning about life in Alaska (Hannah's own family spent much time up there, and her love and familiarity of the state is evident). Highly recommended.
Posted by LucyS on 10/11/18
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Small mercies, sacrifice, strong will and clever deception fuel a young woman’s determination to aid her small French community in surviving enemy occupation during WWII. The Baker’s Secret is written with a new perspective. Author Stephen P. Kiernan shows how one person can make a far-reaching impact amid desperate circumstances. Even though this is a work of fiction, I could not help but be humbled about the arduousness, deprivation and oppression that people endure during war.
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